Hollywood meets Silicon Valley as studios begin to explore push technology.
Sony Corp.'s Columbia TriStar Interactive's recent partnership with BackWeb Technologies on a Web site for TriStar Pictures' "Starship Troopers" makes the studio the first among its brethren to utilize push technology.
Other sudios and their parents, like Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Co., are plotting their first push initiatives, as well.
`SHOWCASE THEIR TECHNOLOGY'
"Hollywood can be an effective business partner for Silicon Valley in ways other marketers can't," said CTI's Lynda Keeler, VP-marketing. "Silicon Valley often has some very exciting technologies but [they] are often in search of a purpose that other brands can't or won't give.
"But Hollywood can offer something like `Starship Troopers,' which can generate a lot of buzz and comes with a lot of media weight--that allows them to showcase their technology," she added.
CTI and BackWeb launched the "Starship Troopers" site on July 24 (www.sony.com/starshiptroopers). The movie tells the story of a group of soldiers in the future that travel to a distant planet to battle giant alien insects that threaten to destroy Earth.
In the film, a massive Internet database called Fed Net distributes propaganda to subscribers, while the soldiers' training facility is called Base Camp. Both Fed Net and Base Camp are critical elements to the movie Web site's entertainment experience and push technology components.
Visitors to the site are invited to become soldiers and establish their own Web pages in the site's Base Camp area. They can also sign up to receive bi-weekly updates, screensavers, games and multimedia data from Fed Net, courtesy of BackWeb.
The updates are delivered to users' desktops with BackWeb. Users must be online, but not on the Web site, to have the updates delivered.
As of Nov. 3, between 15,000 and 20,000 people had signed up for the push-delivered Fed Net content.
"The main thing that push can provide is a lot of multimedia-rich content that can be delivered to a user's desktop and, in a sense, remind them not only that there's a movie coming but that there's more to do on the `Starship Troopers' Web site," said Ms. Keeler.
`WORLD WIDE WAIT'
Push also has another great benefit, said Ms. Keeler. "It has the potential of solving the World Wide Wait problem," she said, referring to the lengthy and tedious waits users often suffer in downloading content. But with push, the dynamics of downloading are reversed, eliminating labor and stress on the user's part.
If studios like Columbia/TriStar can maintain a captive community of 15,000 to 20,000 consumers over two months time, then its programming may be attractive to advertisers. But CTI faces some challenges selling ad space in its push-delivered communiques.
"We have to find a balance between partnering with a marketer and blatant advertising," said Ms. Keeler, but she added that the studio will investigate the possibilities in future push initiatives.
And that may come sooner than later.
Ms. Keeler characterized the "Starship Troopers" program as a test, but said the studio will most likely use it again in online marketing programs for two films slated for release next summer, "Godzilla" and "Zorro."
Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.