MGM Will Track 'Hannibal' Online Promos in Real Time

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MGM Pictures Inc. is testing new technology that will allow it to track Web site and e-mail promotions in real time. The application from iMedium Inc. is being used to promote "Hannibal," the MGM sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs."

Kicking off last week, the promotion is aimed at the myriad "Hannibal" online fan clubs, 450,000 consumers who have opted in to receive e-mail updates from MGM and users of MSN and other portals that feature "Hannibal" banners.

"It addresses the fan outcry for wanting 'Hannibal' official stills and logos on their site, which is tricky, so this is really a way to distribute the promotional material and bring them to other areas of the site," said Amy Elkins, manager of theatrical online marketing at MGM, Santa Monica, CA. "It's an alternative way to measure viral efforts."

Called the iMedium Marketing Automation Platform, the real-time tool from iMedium, Philadelphia, allows content hosting and distribution, reporting services and integration to applications that support sales and marketing.

So, for instance, the iMedium application launches when visitors to or the English version of click on the Hannibal Preview section. It appears as a microsite window that pops up with images. Links there will take users to areas of interest.

To whet the appetite of fan clubs, MGM allows users to cut and paste the HTML code for download to their desktops or to the fan site. Elkins said there were no problems with copyright since this was intended for official distribution.

"I'll be putting new information in there as we have a countdown to the [Feb. 9] release," Elkins said. "In the past it's been a challenge to evaluate viral campaigns, but iMedium offers a solution to this. We can [now] track what are the most popular areas, what we should promote more, that sort of thing."

For now, the application -- wrapped in haunting, dark visuals of the infamous doctor, Hannibal Lecter -- contains The Hannibal Journal; interviews with cast and crew such as Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta and director Ridley Scott; multimedia; sweepstakes for free soundtracks and posters; and film information.

Soon, MGM will add a competition to follow Hannibal around the world based on clues supplied.

"The overall strategy is to really use a viral application to measure the interest because this is something we can get in real time," Elkins said.

While this is the first time MGM has used the online tool, rival studios have used it for flicks such as "The Blair Witch Project," "American Psycho" and "Stuart Little."

"We'll use it throughout the release of the picture," Elkins said. "Obviously we expect this picture to do amazing and based on the success, it's also something that we can pass over information to our home entertainment group who handle the video product, VHS and DVD, for their campaigns."

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