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Mysteries of AdWords for Indie Film

January 20, 2010

I have not read a lot of articles on the use of AdWords to promote smaller indie films. I’m sure it is being done, but I’d be interested to hear more about what has worked and what pitfalls may exist.

We have just begun to develop Google AdWords campaigns for our film, The Enemy God. We worked our way through festivals, found a sales agent, and are now working on some hybrid self-distribution. That is, we have sold the worldwide rights to the film but we retained the right to sell DVDs on our own sites. Therefore, we want to build our own, very specific, audiences through targeted marketing – and encourage them to check us out and buy a DVD!

There are a few things that attract me to strategies like AdWords:

  • You are able to target and customize your ads to your unique audience. (If you can’t identify and target a fairly narrow market, you may still have some thinking to do. It’s not wise to try to just say, “My film will appeal to everyone.” You don’t want to be using keywords like, “comedy film”, or “horror”!)
  • You can manage your expenses by establishing your own budget and you only pay for clicks, not impressions. The beauty of this is that you can avoid being stuck with an ad that just doesn’t work. You can tweak and re-shape an ad campaign on-the-fly or just cancel it if it’s not working for you.
  • There are tools to help you figure out if your ad is working: are people coming to the site, which phrases are attracting people, and what pages of your site are most interesting.

Our film is very out-of-the-ordinary, so that helps us in some ways. I have never seen a narrative film like it; we tell an indigenous story from the Amazon rainforest. We are working with keyword phrases that would not normally be used for indie films, such as: indigenous culture, Yanomami, and the names of famous anthropologists who are connected with the tribe. You can’t do that with a suburban romantic comedy or thriller; I think it’s a more difficult challenge to come up with unique keywords to help promote a more mainstream film. We are hoping that we can take advantage of our out-of-the-ordinary themes to help target ads to folks who might be interested in our film.

We’re only beginning to get enough data to get a good sense of what’s working and what’s not and are thinking of how to tweak ads, landing pages of our web site, messages on the site, etc. to help folks who do click on the ad to ‘stick’ with us in some significant way. We want to develop true fans as well as sell DVDs.

I’ll post again with examples of results we are seeing and what we seem to be doing right and wrong.

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