CineEurope: Data – a New Goldmine?

By | August 11, 2015 1:13 am PDT

This post is a transcription composed in real-time during one of the many seminars at CineEurope 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. As such we often paraphrase the presentations being given.

The rise of smartphones and internet bookings has pushed cinemas into the digital age, perhaps even more so than the switch over from analogue film projection. This CineEurope panel got under the hood about what the potential for this still-nascent cinema field is.

From the conference programme: “Many cinema companies and distributors now have access to huge amounts of data about the tastes of their customers, yet shared understanding of the key trends is often poor. This session will look at how that data might be better collected, shared and – most importantly – used to drive new revenue streams.

Moderator: Pete Buckingham, Founder and MD, Sampo Media, UK

Presenters: Christian Kluge, Founder, Smart Pricer

Sarah Lewthwaite, Strategic Partnerships Director, Movio

Jolyon (Joe) Spurling, Data Evangelist & Co-Founder, Showtime Analytics, Ireland

Pete Buckingham begins the session with an overview: “When you start merging APIs [application program interface – i.e. how software is built and interacts] with data it gets really exciting. All three people on the panel are using emerging data sets to create new forms of value and services for cinema, distributors or suppliers. This is a frontier-ish seminar and I spent an hour with them each to understand what it is that they do, so will ask them to illuminate this topic with three questions. Rest assured, there was homework before the meeting.” First up, Pete says, “time to get to the elevator pitch.”

Joe –  “Idea behind Showtime was that we are data guys from outside the cinema industry. We looked at aviation and other fields. I come from cinema family but the [cinema] business has been under-served [in terms of data services]. We bring best practice to the business and we specialise in integrating all that data and turn it into insights that can help drive your business.”

“If you look at the trade-show today there are hundreds of exhibitors with apps and data, which can be weather, engagement, critics reviews. How do you bring all of that together? We are pulling in data from interesting demographic related to data about your audience. If you [as a cinema] have a mobile app it is about users; same with email newsletter or social media campaign. Sweet spot is to know your customers and where can you get that from.”

“Historically, an exhibitor would get an event film like “Jurassic Park”, but now you have choices for how you market for alternative content. Exhibitors have to become promoters of their own events. We have worked with small sites that outsell their larger sister sites nearby and they do that by using their data from various sources and looking at what their audiences like (opera lover is different from ballet lover).

Then how do I go out and engage that audience? They discovered that people want prosecco, canapés and an experience. If that is the type of customer we are looking for, how do we [then] go to the local opera society? Take the value and bring more people to your cinema and sites. Alternative content is a real sweet spot by taking on distributor role and promoting that content.”

“To a large extent as an outsider there is good work being done on admissions benchmark so we can go deeper, energy usage, demographics, spend per head on a per-site level. But targets can be misleading. If you can aggregate or anonymize data that information pooled can tell exhibitors how their average compares to a similar size organization or exhibitor in US or Spain and how can I improve. How do I compare to my peer group? Targets are dangerous; you get complacent. Peer groups challenge you. As an extension, we are big believers in a data revolution. If that data is not anonymized how can we use that even better. How to package that for re-sell to third parties.”

Sarah –  (Starts off by apologising for having a cold.) She is originally Canadian and ran Cineplex data side and Movio was a suppliers. “We work with marketers to extract maximum value from the customers. Integrate directly with POS system. Bring in net promoter data that makes it user-friendly from marketers perspective and then do targeted campaigns through email or social media platforms. Marketers finally have visibility. We are part of the Vista group of companies. Launched MovioMedia that allows exhibitors to share data with distribtors to get customer insights. Win-win situation that aggregates anonymized insights.”

“Data sources vary from cinema chain to cinem chain. Depend on the quality of cinema chain. We get all the POS system data. Most chains have API so we get trailer views, ticket purchase trail data. We also have an API through social. So we can capture what people are tweeting about or Facebooking. It is customisable, so many cinema chains have done customisation – so it varies circuit to circuit.”

“Where we see an opportunity is not enough effort done to capture data about upcoming interest. We rely so much on past behaviour. Just because someone has seen a film [it is assumed] they will like a similar film, but that person might not have liked that film. So we understand actual preference through social media. That will take targeting to the next level. We work with partners on overarching digital strategy and provide them with the tool to achieve those strategies.”

“Difference between North American and European data sharing. Over arching thing is that strategy is the same. Deliver a personal recommendation through the right channels at the right time. In North America, it is a mature market for loyalty [schemes], but that is not necessarily a good thing, because data has dwindled. Their one that had been running for over a decade where they didn’t even have an email addresses for their customers. So cinemas have to do homework and clean up their systems. If you are not refreshing the value proposition you lose customers through boredom.”

“In European market loyalty is emerging, so there is opportunity to learn from America to avoid problems down the road. In Europe there is unlimited [viewing] type of loyalty schemes in France, UK and Holland. So from data perspective it is an interesting challenge/opportunity. But you are not necesarily getting data on less regular movie goers. How do you compliment those types of strategies? Maybe it is not about increasing frequency but increasing basket size or getting them to upgrade to VIP.”

Christian – “I am not a cinema guy. I come from the airline industry where me and partners [worked for] ten year. [Our proposition is] Giving customers a choice of where they want to sit and how much to pay for that. To do that you need to understand references. We analysed thousands of show and we developed a dynamic pricing tool that optimises pricing mix for every show.”

“This has two advantage. Give customer a choice of where to sit and to allow the process of self selection, so you can skim more revnue. More than 10% revenue increase by applying dynamic pricing after one year of operation. So they are varying the amount of prices, if the cinema is not selling well it will be fewer or more seats. So ticket prices do not change.”

“We have two sources of data – the ticketing system where we get the bookings from and we do ‘heat map’ analysis. Then we have secondary data like Facebook posts, Google searches and even weather, so we looked at correlation. We thought social media would be important, but we were surprised that Google searches had a higher correlation with cinema attendance.”

“Plain dynamic pricing that changes the amount of tickets and seats available for a particular site. You don’t just optimise pricing per show but combine it with clever CRM by combining with something like Movio, so you can offer different prices to a lawyer compared to a student. So differentiate pricing for different customers.”

[At this point I had to leave for my own session on ‘Cinema Advertising’, which started immediately after this one finished, but was located at the other end of the convention complex. If anything particularly interesting was said during the last 1/3 of the panel, feel free to share this in the Comments section below.]
Patrick von Sychowski
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Patrick von Sychowski

Patrick was a Senior Analyst at Screen Digest, went on to launch the digital cinema operations of Unique and Deluxe Europe, then digitised Bollywood at Adlabs/RMW, and now writes, consults and appears on panels about cinema all over the world.
Patrick von Sychowski
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