Cinema is constantly changing, and that's good news for brands
With total UK cinema admissions up 10% year on year, and cinema ad revenues up by 21% in the first half of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014, cinema is an increasingly attractive part of the media mix for brands. As the sector continues to innovate, where do the opportunities lie?
1. HOW CAN YOUR BRAND ADD VALUE TO CONSUMERS WHEN THEY ARE AT THEIR MOST RECEPTIVE?
Brands are increasingly deploying location-based marketing, enabling brands to target consumers with relevant mobile messages when they are within close proximity to their store – or cinema. Indeed, location-based advertising and marketing is expected to represent 7% of digital advertising, or 2% of the total global ad spend for all media, by 2018, according to Berg Insight.
As Kym Reynolds, head of marketing mobility at marketing specialists, SmartFocus, wrote earlier this year, “We see leading brands now delivering personalised discounts and vouchers to their user’s smartphones whilst they are in-store, and cinema chains are sending personal notifications to movie-goers once they have left the cinema.
For example, “Rate the X-Men movie and we will enter you in a competition to win free cinema tickets.”
2. THINK LATERALLY ABOUT THE DIGITAL OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED AROUND THE RELEASE OF FILM TRAILERS
Film trailers have always been powerful marketing tools, but the way in which studios release this footage is changing.
Last year Paramount Pictures released the first trailer for its Hercules film via a Twitter Q&A with the film’s starring man, Dwayne Johnson. And in May this year, the trailer for British comedy, Absolutely Anything was premiered on SnapChat, being made available for one day only on MTV’s Snapchat Discover account.
Philip O’Ferrall, the senior vice president for digital at Viacom International Media Networks, said Snapchat offered “the perfect platform to reveal this world exclusive straight to [consumers’] most cherished devices”. Rachel Masuku, digital marketing manager at Lionsgate, said the partnership was the first asset launch to be exclusively in a mobile app, marking the shift into Lionsgate’s ‘digital first’ strategy.
3. HOW CAN YOUR BRAND USE ONLINE TO TAP INTO THE GLITZ AND GLAMOUR OF A FILM’S PREMIERE?
Yahoo often live streams film premieres, giving its audience direct real-time access to the events. As Michael Pennington, head of entertainment at Yahoo!, has commented, “As well as being authentic, the key is to give mass audiences access to content, but simultaneously provide that all important sense of exclusivity, so long associated with the glitz and glamour of film.”
In October 2015, the world premiere of the latest James Bond film, Spectre was live streamed on YouTube by Sony Pictures Releasing UK, clocking up over 151,000 viewers. As Pennington says, “Bringing offline experiences such as the excitement of the red-carpet into the online space is a fantastic way to engage broader audiences and build anticipation about a film.” And, potentially, raise awareness of a brand.
4. EVENT CINEMA IS A GROWTH AREA, RIPE WITH OPPORTUNITY…
Event cinema is experiencing a boom and is continuing to grow, showing that it's a hit with consumers. The sector has recorded a 35.2% boost in revenues in the past two years, with the total revenue reaching nearly $300m in 2014, and is forecast to generate $1bn (£645m) globally by 2019.
The report, which was conducted by IHS also found the leading titles across all countries was the UK’s National Theatre production of War Horse, followed by One Direction in concert, Billy Elliot: The Musical, and Monty Python. In addition, last year saw New York’s Metropolitan Opera screen live performances in more than 2,000 cinemas across 67 countries, selling more than 2.4m tickets.
“Theatre has become the new hot genre in the event cinema world, replacing the early drivers of opera and ballet,” said David Hancock, director of film and cinema, IHS Technology. “Event cinema has an integral part to play in re-defining the cinema experience, assisted by new experience-enhancing technologies.”
5. SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES ARE DRIVING FOOTFALL TO CINEMAS, DEMANDING NEW WAYS OF MARKETING
Yahoo! research in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy in 2014, showed that, while people are consuming more long form content on a range of devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, this is not deterring audiences from visiting cinemas.
“The great news for movie studios is that it’s not an either or consumption pattern – our research reveals that it’s the same audience who use online streaming services who are more likely to buy tickets to the movies (14% more likely),” says Michael Pennington, head of entertainment, Yahoo!. “They engage with content whatever size the screen.”
The challenge – and opportunity – for both films and brands that partner with films, is how to market to this increasingly digital savvy audience using a range of platforms. As Simon Rees, CEO, DCM said at the inaugural Cinema of the Future conference in London in December 2014, “I’d argue that that relationship to a large extent isn’t inside the cinema. It’s about how cinema engages its audience through mobile and social media”.
6. HOW CAN BRANDS USE MOBILE TO REACH CINEMA-GOERS IN THEIR SEATS?
DCM has developed an app called CiniMe, designed to help brands to engage with an audience before and after a film. Via the app, an advertiser is able to push out a piece of content when a cinema viewer’s phone picks up sonic messages from the cinema screen.
Cinema is the best immersive experience and it’s beginning to come to life for a lot of brand, said Simon Rees, CEO, DCM. “It is a very modern, agile, digital environment.”
In May 2014, BMW used the CineMe app to target 25-44 year old men with the launch of its 2 Series Coupé. The Cinime BMW: Ultimate Driver Challenge was created to run alongside the big screen ad, giving cinema-goers the opportunity to complete a circuit of the BMW test track using the app on their smartphone. Their scores were loaded onto a leaderboard, giving participants the chance to win a test drive of every new BMW model released in 2014.
“Brands are gradually waking up to that opportunity,” said Rees.
7. iBEACON TECHNOLOGY CAN ENABLE BRANDS TO ENGAGE DIRECTLY WITH CONSUMERS ON ARRIVAL
Last year, Odeon Cinemas trialled iBeacon technology to welcome people to the cinema and let them know about special offers via their mobile phones. The cinema chain also looked at scanning technology that would allow customers to scan film posters with their mobile phones to see movie trailers and receive reminders about film releases.
Odeon believed that iBeacons would offer it the opportunity to gain greater insight into the people visiting its cinemas too. Last year, around a third of its customers, or 2.5 million people, had signed up to its loyalty scheme and a third had agreed to CRM.
“As a retailer we are looking at how we can use WiFi and iBeacon technology to give us more insight,” said Andy Edge, commercial director, Odeon. “Without being intrusive we want to understand things like using mobile technology to see average dwell time in the foyer, what is people’s route through the cinema, do you go in and come back again? You can’t talk to them if you know that but it at least gives insight into customers in the retail space.”
In Norway this year, Coca-Cola ran an eight week trial using beacon technology in cinemas to target and retarget consumers with smartphones. Consumers opened the cinema’s mobile application once inside, receiving a beacon-enabled notification with an offer for a free Coke that could be redeemed at the counter. The offer was redeemed by 24% of people.
One of the goals of the campaign was to collect data on moviegoers so Coca-Cola could then retarget them a week later with an offer for a free cinema ticket. 60% of consumers clicked on the ad and 20% redeemed the offer. Coca-Cola is now looking to extend the programme throughout Scandinavia and into Europe.
8. IN JANUARY 2015, THE UK’S FIRST 4D CINEMA OPENED, INTRODUCING TOUCH AND SMELL INTO THE FILM EXPERIENCE…
4D sees the cinema audience quite literally immersed in the onscreen action, with seats that move, rumble, spray water and emit bursts of air to coincide with the film’s action. The innovations are designed to simulate effects such as a bullet whistling past your ear. Operators can also emit different smells into the cinema, such as the scent of flowers or coffee (perhaps a particular brand of coffee?), all designed to bring the audience closer to the action.
The 4DX technology used by Cineworld was developed by South Korean company, CJ 4DPlex, and has been installed in more than 100 cinemas across 25 countries since it started five years ago. CJ 4DPlex expects to triple that figure by the end of 2015.
Despite some scepticism, early signs are that 4DX cinema is proving popular – in the US at least. During the first few months of screenings at the 4DX cinema at the Regal Cinemas Live LA location, audience figures have been at 63% capacity on average, compared to the standard 10-15%.
Over its 13-day 4D engagement, Variety reported that Transformers: Age of Extinction generated $105,016 (£67,929) in ticket sales compared to a US average of $44,054 (£28,496) during the same period – a 138% improvement. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also delivered a 145% improvement in ticket sales in one 4DX location over its first 13 days.
9. IS VIRTUAL REALITY SET TO TRANSFORM CINEMA?
Film makers now have access to a range of revolutionary virtual reality (VR) tools, requiring users to wear headsets such as Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR: Innovator Edition to bring the film alive.
VR films have been growing in popularity over the last 12 months, particularly in the horror genre, with the launch of11:57 and Affected. It is a genre that lends itself particularly well to VR, immersing the viewer fully in a 360 degree nightmare…
In November 2014, DreamWorks Animation announced that it was working on a new 360 degree virtual reality (VR) film, which is being developed using a system dubbed ‘super cinema’; while Oculus has launched the Oculus Story Studio – a group of film and game developers producing short VR films – releasing its first film, Lost, in January. In September 2015, Walt Disney also showed its belief in the technology, investing $65 million into Jaunt, a cinematic VR start-up in the US.
Simon Robinson, Chief Scientist at visual effects software company, The Foundry, whose software has been used in the 2015 Star Wars film as well as Gravity and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, said last year that documentaries have huge potential in VR: “I always loved the idea of a documentary where you could put on a headset and you would be on a journey in the desert or in the mountains where it would feel like you were there and could look around.
“Being put in the jungle in the Amazon or on the top of a mountain without the oppressive heat or freezing cold – I would pay to have this type of experience.”
With the major VR headsets being made available to consumers in 2016, there will be a growing demand for quality content – both feature films and documentaries – something which may lend itself to partner brands as well as film makers…
10. SMARTPHONES ARE ALSO BEING USED DURING THE FILM TO ENHANCE THE STORY
This summer, some cinemas in the US encouraged visitors to use their smartphones during the sci-fi film, Terminator Genisys.
Audience members were invited to connect to the Wi-Fi at AMC IMAX cinemas in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas to participate in three multiplayer man-versus-machines scenarios using a bespoke app game.
The winning players were rewarded with prizes such as limited edition posters. Playing the game on a mobile before the film began also acted as an interactive prelude to the story.
Film producers Skydance and Paramount Pictures worked with interactive entertainment company, Audience Entertainment to enable the mobile initiative. Adam Cassels, CMO, Audience Entertainment, said: “Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, and merging that with the movies in a way that’s interactive, fun and truly memorable is a very exciting proposition for an industry seeking to innovate. The movies offer the very best in screen and sound while providing audiences with a first of its kind, collective, in-person gaming experience.”
It certainly opens up additional content possibilities for both films and brand partners to interact with highly engaged viewers in a relevant context. But it must add real value to ensure it adds – not detracts – from the experience.
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