Actions Speak Loudest: Learning to Leverage Your Data

Gabriel Swartland, Regional Director & Vice President, EMEA, Movio


Learning to use and apply your data to its fullest – and understanding the difference between demographic data and behavioural data – can elevate your understanding of your audience. And, importantly, hone your marketing technique to reach them.


Demographic and Behavioural Data
Demographic data is something every film industry marketer is familiar with. It covers and details data points that enable marketers to segment moviegoers into different “buckets” of relevant demographics for insight, comparison, and basic targeting. For example, with good demographic data, an analysis of the UK moviegoer audience for “Dune” shows that it skewed significantly – over 54% – towards those
under 35, and over 65% of the audience was predominantly male.


While demographic-based, broad segmentation targets many moviegoers who are interested in a film, it also targets plenty who aren’t, wasting valuable marketing budget. Additionally, it excludes plenty of moviegoers who would see the movie but don’t fall within that target demographic. This is the crux of the issue; avoiding wasting marketing dollars on the wrong audiences, and missing opportune moviegoers in the process.


Behavioural data makes a real difference and helps us understand more about who those people actually are. Who were those under-35 males that saw “Dune”? How many tickets did they buy? What concessions did they buy when they visited? Where do they spend their time and money? Marketers can gain a far deeper understanding into their moviegoers with behavioural data.


The Relevance to Cinemas and Studios
The cinema experience begins long before customers walk into the building. Personalised communications and recommendations specific to individuals are the first touchpoints that cinemas have with their audiences. And behavioural data is what makes that personalisation element possible. It’s a better experience for the moviegoer, but it’s also more efficient for the studios and exhibitors carrying out the promotion.


With data ever-present in our lives, we have copious access to behavioural data through loyalty programmes and the ubiquity of online booking. So to not use this data to improve moviegoers’ cinema experiences is a disservice. Marketing to the right audience, and doing it well, is incredibly important. And strong use of behavioural data is key to ensuring that marketers know exactly who that right audience is.


More and more of our clients at Movio – both exhibitors and studios – are now positioning behaviour-based targeting at the heart of their marketing campaigns. On the exhibitors side, it’s becoming standard practice to use “dynamic content” in newsletters – using a moviegoer’s previous viewing history to help prioritise and order the content recommendations they receive. But increasingly, behaviour based targeting is the starting point for social and digital activations as well. Connecting with moviegoers beyond an exhibitor’s owned channels is a very effective way of widening the net while maintaining the benefits of behavioural segmentation.


The Story Told by the Data
Detailed customer insights have become all the more important throughout the challenges of the pandemic, as we try to understand behaviour such as who is choosing to return to cinemas first, or the possible changes in moviegoing habits as a result of the last 18 months. And our data science team recently completed some research into who the moviegoers were that were coming back to cinemas over the last year. This research focused on moviegoers in the US and United Arab Emirates with the goal of trying to understand if pre-pandemic visitation habits could be a good predictor of who is first to return as cinemas reopen.


The results were interesting. The moviegoers who were the most frequent cinema visitors prior to the pandemic, and those who were higher spenders, were most likely to return. Groups and families were also clearly keen to get back to the big screen experience, with this playing out in the UK with the success of films like “Peter Rabbit 2”.


One unexpected point of behaviour was that those loyalty programme members who shared more of their data than others – like a valid phone number or date of birth – were more likely to come back sooner. So when looking at moviegoers, data sharing and marketing engagement coming from cinemas are both strong predictors of a
likelihood to return sooner.


It’s yet another reason why more personalised recommendations and relevant content can be such a great tool at exhibitors’ disposal; if this is on offer to your loyalty members, it can be a driving incentive for moviegoers to sign up and share more of their information. This then gives you a clearer picture of who they are, and improves the quality of your targeted marketing to them.


Use It Wisely
For studios yet to explore behavioural data when it comes to cinema, the best advice is: dive in. Our exhibition partners have been leveraging behavioural data for a few years and benefiting from the subsequent improved conversion rates. Those studios who have been using first-party moviegoer behaviour-based targeting, have seen ticket purchase conversion rates of 7%, significantly above the 2% conversion rates we have seen from purely demographic-based  targeting. Exhibitors should continue to adopt mass one-toone marketing and use behaviour to personalise the content of communications. It is significantly more resource efficient, and less wasteful than traditional one-to-many campaigns.


In the immediate term as cinemas reopen, use behaviour to create smarter segmented groups, like “returning moviegoers”, to maximise the opportunities of those moviegoers who have returned to cinemas first. And look at the demographic breakdown of the segment to help inform appropriate messaging. Then, look at this in the reverse to understand who is yet to return to cinemas and therefore who might need the further reassurance of cinema safety protocols, or the temptation of an offer.


We are creatures of habit. And so with the abundance of film content delayed from 2020 coming to cinemas in the remainder of this year, marketers should use attendance data to turn each visit into the next. Recency data should play a big part in targeting in campaigns, as we get moviegoers back into the habit of the big screen experience.


The Future is Behavioural-Shaped
One thing is for certain: there will be more behavioural data in the future. The events of the past year have seen a huge acceleration in the use of digital technology in our everyday lives. And this digital usage transformation is surely here to stay so businesses must take immediate advantage of it. Online ticket sales have, unsurprisingly, surpassed in-cinema sales pretty much across the board because of the pandemic. This provides an increasing opportunity to capture  customer consent for digital marketing as a result. This presents a serious chance for the theatrical industry to catch up with the streamers (where data capture is built-in for the latter) and to reap all the benefits that first-party behavioural data provides.


But there will be more expected from it: another big change is around data privacy. Just as the increase in digital transactions provides increased opportunities to capture data, the need for greater transparency on the use of that data is even more important. Agreeing to part with your data is a transaction and savvy consumers will expect a return on that exchange. Increasingly, a component of that data exchange is zero-party data – data a moviegoer will explicitly provide in order to receive a better experience in return: “These are my genre preferences, so tell me about these types of films!” High up the list of importance when it comes to the benefits of joining a loyalty programme, for example, is ease of use. No longer simply the personalised welcome message or pre-populated filled out form, but that first party and zero-party data should inform when, how and what you communicate with your customer. If we explain the benefits of handing over your data, and make sure we demonstrate those benefits with every interaction, moviegoer loyalty is the reward.


At Movio, we are focused on working with our exhibitor and studio partners to develop the opportunities this data provides, and further investment in our data science team supports this. Improving things like our propensity algorithm and applying it to non-ticket items so you’re recommended the right product to further enhance your cinema experience, is just one example.


With the demise in the use of cookie data captured from following us around the web, and other third-party data collection, secure, consent-driven first-party data use is increasingly important and central to our mission to connect all moviegoers to their ideal movie.






A selection of case studies
Earlier this year, we published a case study in partnership with a leading studio that made use of Movio’s AI-driven propensity algorithm to identify moviegoers likely to attend four different action-thrillers. Movio’s algorithm identifies likely moviegoers not only through their own ticket  purchase histories, but also through the attendance behaviour of other moviegoers that share similar tastes.

This approach of analysing both individual and collective attendance data allowed the studio to bypass the old assumption-based demographic targeting and really focus their marketing money where it would be most effective.

The audience segments the studio targeted in each campaign saw incredible conversion rates, averaging higher than 15% across the four campaigns. The ‘most likely’ audience segment of moviegoers, which Movio identified as having the highest likelihood of attending the films, converted at an average of 42.7%.


By targeting moviegoers based on their actual behaviour, the studio maximised the efficiency of their marketing investment, with the box office generated from the target audience producing a 38x return on their advertising spend across all four campaigns.


Providing studios with access to Movio’s behaviour-based targeting means they can focus on the right audiences, minimise wastage and generate considerable return on their marketing dollars.

Demographic data still brings value, of course. If we target first, based on behavioural information, then looking at demographic segments within that audience can be very insightful. For example, marketers can notice patterns between the two and tailor their marketing to suit a target audience that skews, say, both older and female.

For the studios we work with, aggregated audience data provides insights of actionable value, and has done for some time – particularly with planning future film releases. Accessed directly through our Research Platform, or via a bespoke set of reports, understanding the audience evolution over time plays a significant role in contextualising how a film performs at the box office.


And also, it increasingly plays a role in how a studio might augment their media strategy across the film’s release life-cycle. Is that anticipated secondary audience coming out as expected from week two? Should media activations be dialled up or down as a result?