Get people to the theater: 4 takeaways for movie marketers to sell more tickets

The summer of 2017 was the worst movie season in ten years, but box offices are starting to look hopeful again. Summer 2018 showed a 14% rise in box office sales compared to the previous year. With top grossing titles like Marvel action film “Avengers: Infinity War,” the highly anticipated romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” and the Mister Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” leading the way, this past year has shown that theaters have something for everyone and that quality content is key.

Studios need to break through a lot of entertainment options across more devices than ever before. Identifying and reaching known movie ticket purchasers of specific films is a great way to do it. According to a report by Neustar, digital media accounted for 46% of box office revenue despite only accounting for 14% of studio marketing budgets. Here are our top tips for making the most of your digital media budget.

Identify actual movie ticket buyers…

More than half of all movie tickets purchased are bought by frequent moviegoers; on top of that, a quarter of Americans and Canadians never buy tickets for movie theaters. Clearly, there is a lot of value in getting it right when it comes to identifying potential ticket buyers. If you deliver your marketing message to the consumers who will never go to the theater anyway, you're basically throwing away your advertising dollars.

The key to making this distinction lies in data. Marketers often use locational data to see where consumers are, like seeing that they visited a movie theater. However, this data point doesn't tell the whole story. Location data is often imprecise, so someone may actually be in an adjoining storefront. Even at its best, location data can’t determine which movie a person saw.

Transactional data, therefore, is key to identifying the consumers who regularly purchase movie tickets and excluding those who never go to the theater. This information can show how often a person buys movie tickets, which movie tickets they purchase, when they go to the movies and even their other related interests. Whether a person went to the movies in the past is often the best predictor of whether or not they’ll go in the future.

And send them to the right movie.

Identifying actual movie-ticket buyers is half the battle. The other piece comes from delivering relevant messages to those consumers. Once you have identified someone as a frequent moviegoer, you can then identify which films to promote to that person.

By getting down to movie title-level purchase data, you can accurately measure whether your marketing had a direct impact on ticket sales. Then with the accurate, re-activated data, you can find the best potential customers for a release in the same genre with the same audience in the future.

Past purchase information doesn’t have to be limited to movie-ticket transactions. Other purchases can also point to movie interests. For example, people who frequently purchase video games would be a good target for sci-fi or fantasy films. The right data can unveil insights into unexpected audiences.

Deliver messages where people are most likely to read them.

Identification also plays a role in where to reach movie-ticket buyers. By 2021, Cisco predicts that North American consumers will have as many as 13 connected devices per person, including items beyond smartphones, connected TVs and wearable technology. As consumers add more devices, it is critical to know what devices an individual is using and relay the data back to that person’s profile.

With a robust picture on how an individual interacts on their devices and channels, you have a better opportunity to reach those people. An Epsilon study found that 55 percent of media and entertainment consumers prefer to receive personalized experiences via an app on their mobile device. By understanding where and how movie ticket-buyers are most likely to engage and convert, marketers can deliver more effective advertising.

Run campaigns beyond opening weekend.

Although opening weekend is the window for movies to gain the highest revenue, it isn’t everything. In fact, many movie-ticket buyers wait until after opening weekend to purchase tickets to a new film. And there is always an audience interested in catching a film once it becomes available on demand.

Extending campaigns into week 2 has shown 56 percent more incremental transactions in the box office, and it keeps the film top of mind for movie watchers. To keep results rolling, set aside some funding to continue the campaign.

Despite an uptick in box office revenue this past summer, the quest to get movie viewers into the seats is far from over. You must continue to make a concerted effort to drive messages to the consumers that are most likely to actually purchase tickets, and see movies that are relevant to their interests.

To find out more insights about the driving ticket sales, download our latest research report, The New Era of Box Office Digital Marketing.