We are all so used to the marketing methods of major commercial events—new Hollywood movies, for example—that few consider how outdated and wasteful such approaches have become. When a major movie studio releases a film with blockbuster potential, it will spend vast amounts on traditional advertising, exposing everyone who goes to that kind of movie (and many people who don’t) to previews and information in media old and new, from television and newspapers to web advertising and social network campaigns. It’s not hard to understand why studios put so much into publicity—getting someone to see a movie in a theater is almost as demanding as getting him or her on a plane. The viewer has to commit to a time, ...

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