5 Ways to Target Moviegoers with Location-Based Marketing

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Ticket sales are down at movie theaters across the country, leaving some of the largest cinema chains scrambling as they search for innovative ways to reverse the sales slump. Coming off of a 16% drop in domestic box-office revenue during the all-important summer movie season, cinema chains and media companies are hoping new location-based marketing tactics will get moviegoers back inside their local theaters.

Here are five examples of some of the most innovative strategies that firms are using to promote films and encourage ticket sales at cinemas around the globe.

1. Using beacons to collect data on filmgoers
The cinema advertising firm Screenvision announced its plans to roll out a location-based marketing program using beacons last year. By installing beacons from Mobiquity Networks at more than 300 theaters, Screenvision can gather geo-location data about filmgoers, which it then is able to offer to brand advertisers. In addition to providing its clients with consumer location data, the program allows Screenvision to send mobile ads, triggered by beacons, to consumers when they’re in the lobby of their local theaters. Or, moviegoers who just left screenings can be sent marketing offers to encourage them to return to see other movies within a certain time period.

2. Pushing content to consumers already inside theaters
Working with Panasonic and IBM’s Watson, the proximity engagement vendor Thinaire announced its plans to send mobile marketing messages to filmgoers in the lobbies of thousands of cinemas around the country. The strategy involves a combination of 40 to 85-inch LCD screens, beacons, and coordinated mobile messaging. When consumers who’ve downloaded supported apps stop to view the LCD screens, with still images or video clips from movies, their location is sent to Thinaire and the company sends a push notification with material related to the movie content on the LCD screen. Studios pay Thinaire for promoting their content, and Thinaire shares its revenue with the cinemas where its screens and beacons are placed.

3. Measuring the results of digital campaigns with location data
To promote its 2016 film Bad Moms, STX Entertainment ran mobile, display, audio, and video ads on a dozen publisher platforms. Working with the media agency Horizon and the ad tech company Placed, STX tracked whether consumers who were exposed to its ads went on to visit theaters where Bad Moms was playing. The strategy was refined with a survey that asked consumers who’d visited theaters which movie they saw. Placed sent the survey via push notification after consumers were identified inside theaters. By using location measurement, STX found that women who viewed Bad Moms ads were 22% more likely to have gone to see the movie than those who did not, and every $1 the media company spent on digital advertising turned into $2.31 in incremental ticket sales.

4. Collecting data for retargeting efforts
With ticket sales down, cinemas are relying on concessions to boost the bottom line. That’s one of the reasons why CAPA cinemas, a Nordic cinema chain, agreed to work with Coca-Cola on a proximity marketing campaign that relied on beacons from Unacast. Consumers who opted-in to receive push notifications on a Norwegian newspaper’s mobile app were sent messages asking if they’d like a free Coke before their next movie at a CAPA theater. Almost a quarter of moviegoers with the app clicked and redeemed the offer. Those who redeemed the offer were retargeted days later with free promotional movie tickets, to help bring them back to the theater. Sixty percent of consumers clicked on the offer, and of that group, Unacast says 50% went back to redeem the ticket.

5. Leveraging Bluetooth before a film’s release
Mall shoppers are 5x more likely to be moviegoers than people who don’t shop at malls, which is one of the reasons why NBCUniversal decided to target this group with a location-based campaign before the release of its film, Endless Love. Partnering with Mobiquity, NBCUniversal leveraged Bluetooth in “interactive zones” around the common areas of malls to recognize shoppers with mobile devices. Those shoppers were then sent prompts about various campaigns they could opt-in to receive. Shoppers who opted-in were sent the Endless Love movie trailer on their devices, plus automatic calendar reminders before the movie’s release. The reminder included a prompt to purchase tickets on the day the film opened.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.