How Beacons can take the Cinema Experience to the next level
Last Updated:  April 8, 2022
When it comes to driving the buzz around an upcoming movie release or selling movie tickets before a movie premiere, film studios and entertainment marketers have always been quick to move into the mobile sphere. And this trend was clearly based on the spike in interest among today’s moviegoers to watch new movie trailers on their smartphones. In fact, according to a report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, 56 percent of moviegoers use their mobile devices to learn more about their entertainment options.
Taking this trend forward, a few entertainment marketers have been looking to tap into beacons and hyperlocal mobile technology to upsell to moviegoers and boost customer loyalty programs. However, these marketers are now faced up against a huge challenge – getting moviegoers to install a native application around an entertainment property ( a movie) that has a very short shelf life. The only way entertainment brands can get down to leveraging beacons to their fullest potential, is by mapping these proximity detection devices to a native application.
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Therefore, the best way forward is for film studios and entertainment brands to partner with big movie chains that already have sophisticated mobile apps.
Now, let’s take things forward by discussing in detail about how beacons can revolutionize moviegoers’ experience at cinemas.
How cinemas can put beacons to use:
1. Build loyalty programs
Any given day, your movie theatre can have a one-time moviegoer who doesn’t know his/her way around the theatre, or a passionate fan. And the best way to get the one-time visitor to opt into a membership program or to continue to delight your passionate fan is to send geo-located, personalized messages directly to each of them. These messages could vary from special offers, to notifications targeted directly to them, based on their location in the theatre. This can be achieved by integrating your mobile app with your loyalty management system.
For example, if it’s a first time visitor, you could offer a discount on the tickets for an upcoming movie, while a frequent visitor could be rewarded for his/her loyalty with a free Pepsi or popcorn during the interval.
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2. Reach out to a specific demographic
While blockbuster movies carry general audience appeal, they represent a relatively small fraction of the films that are released each year. In fact, one of the biggest challenges faced by the film studios and entertainment brands today, is their ability to effectively engage with targeted audience to promote films with a more narrowly defined audience. And in this challenge, one of the factors that plays a critical role, is optimization of marketing budget. This is where beacons come into the picture.
These proximity detection devices allow entertainment marketers to implement highly personalized marketing strategies that can cater to the needs and preferences of a highly niche audience. These traits about an audience can be studied based on their movie feedbacks, previous ticket purchases, trailers viewed and more. Thus, when it comes to maximizing the efficiency of the marketing budget around a movie, beacons are the best way forward.
3. Seat finding
Given the vast size of most cinemas these days, it is quite common for moviegoers to lose their way while trying to locate their screens and seats. And the difficulty level only goes higher if a moviegoer arrives late for the show. Though Wi-Fi has helped many a business solve the problem of finding items in a store, unfortunately, this indoor location technology fails to work well in spaces where internet availability is not assured. This is where beacons come into the picture.
By installing beacons at critical locations inside the theater, fans can easily be guided to their seats. The precise mapping capabilities of the Bluetooth transmitters mean that moviegoers can be directed to their seats quickly. This solution does not rely on people having an internet connection, the only thing they need is a smartphone and the app of the cinemas they are visiting.
You can even leverage beacons to promote last-minute sales by reaching out to moviegoers at the exact time and place that they’re most likely to want to pay for a ticket.
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4. Drive mobile ticket sales among mall shoppers
According to a recent study, mall shoppers are five times more likely to go to the movies than the average person, and when people view a movie trailer, they are three times more likely to go to see that movie. Given this, beacons offer cinemas the great opportunity to send visitors prompts about campaigns they can opt-in to receive. The mobile content could include a movie trailer or some other exclusive content as well as an automatic calendar reminder, which will prompt them to purchase tickets on the opening day of the film.
5. Provide feedback
Beacons can also be used to offer movie-goers an easy way to offer feedback on a film after the screening is over and they exit the venue.
6. Sell merchandise
Beacons also come with the potential to help cinemas create additional revenue via mobile-based sales of merchandise. For example, you can use beacons to alert moviegoers about arrival of bobble heads, accessories etc., they can directly buy on their phone and pick up from the theatre’s pro shop. You could even provide them with the option of collecting merchandise right at the their seats.
Real-life examples of beacon implementations in cinemas
1. UK’s Odeon Cinemas uses beacons to expand pre-show experience
Odeon Cinemas leveraged beacons to make the pre-show a larger and more fulfilling part of the whole cinema experience. As a part of this plan, Odeon used beacons to allow moviegoers to scan film posters with their mobile devices to see movie trailers and receive reminders when those films are released in the cinema. Besides this, the Cinime app also pushed ticket discounts on certain films, and helped moviegoers find the refreshments that they wanted to purchase while going in to watch the movie they have chosen.
However, the best advantage offered by beacons is that it gives Odeon the opportunity to gain more insights on the people visiting its cinemas. According to commercial director Andy Edge, around a third of its customers, or 2.5 million people, have already signed up to its loyalty scheme and a third have agreed to CRM. Given that, beacons can help them gain insights on visitor behaviour in theatres, by keeping track of average dwell time in the foyer etc. Adding on to that, beacons can also provide them with theatre wide heat maps that can help entertainment marketers identify visitor movements within the cinemas, take note of the hotspots and bottlenecks in theatre and use that data to make informed decisions on layout.
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2. NBCUniversal leverages beacons to drive ticket sales among mall shoppers
In February last year, NBCUniversal leveraged beacons and Wi-Fi to target mall shoppers with a campaign to drive awareness and ultimately sales for its upcoming film, “Endless Love”. As a part of this mall program, NBCUniversal leveraged a beacon network which had these proximity detection devices positioned throughout the common areas of shopping malls such as entrances, anchor stores, escalators and other high-traffic, and high dwell-time areas.
The campaign, allowed mall shoppers to opt-in to receive a combination of premium digital downloads including the movie trailer and a calendar function that allowed moviegoers to opt-in to be reminded to purchase tickets on the opening day of the film.
[Tweet “How NBCUniversal tapped into beacons to promote Endless Love to mall shoppers”]
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!