Movi(o)ng Target: AMC masters marketing messages to moviegoers

Cinemas Features

“It’s no secret that we want to be the guest experience leader,” affirms Brent Cooke, AMC’s VP, guest and digital marketing, loyalty theatre service. “We think that a big part of being that leader is to deliver content messages to our audience that are right for them.” To deliver on that promise, AMC Entertainment joined data forces with Movio, the Auckland, New Zealand-based experts in marketing data analytics and campaign management software for cinema exhibitors, film distributors and studios. In light of their recent agreement, we were actually tempted to forgo our monthly Cinemarketing” theme this time around in favor of “Cinemining.”

Looking at the promotional power of AMC’s 2.4 million-household engaging loyalty program, AMC Stubs, it becomes obvious that Cooke and his team would want “to be able to deliver our e-mail marketing in a way that is going to resonate with you as our guest at a much more personal level.” In the past, dealing with diverse interests of audiences from The Avengers to Woman in Gold required somewhat of a tradeoff, he admits. Leveraging the Movio software-as-a-service will allow AMC “to mine those audiences, identify them, and then meet up with them”–all with the goal of better serving both of those audiences and many others.

More specifically, Cooke foresees that “targeted programming is going to benefit the most…the types of titles that were starved a little bit from marketing attention.” In other words, “it will be much easier for us to identify that audience [for specialized releases and independent films] and get the message out to them and not have to make that tradeoff,” he concurs. “We are using combinations of demographics…and mail preferences and how they like to be reached. We are also using transaction history to be able to target better.”

An average transaction size of four tickets and preferred days of the week for a visit come to mind as examples. Cooke wonders how many people have seen Mad Max already but not yet been to Tomorrowland. “There are instances where we are trying to reinforce behaviors that yielded dividends in the past. For instance, you enjoy our made-to-order, hot food items, and you are a great customer for independent film. In either case or both, we may want to tell you that there is a great new indie film coming out and that we offer a delicious hot food item that we think is perfect for you. Those are really key-category behaviors that we are trying to reinforce.”

Hosting guests at 347 locations and 4,972 screens across the United States, and being a social-media leader–AMC has more Facebook “likes,” Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers than the other three major U.S. exhibition companies combined–the circuit is dealing with not one but two massive databases. The first, with AMC Stubs member and loyalty information, “runs the program and keeps track of our members’ spend. It also awards their rewards [and] allows them to earn their upgrades at the point-of-sale… Then, we also have the ticket and concession purchase transactions that are associated with those members.”

What Movio has done, Cooke explains, is to provide the platform that allows AMC to use all that data load more effectively, “to not only craft enhancements to the program but also [provide] ways to reach out to our guests about relevant offers… By using Movio’s business intelligence service, we can very quickly determine the general and potentially addressable audiences if we wanted to spur a promotion in the market. And secondly, it represents the best software that allows us to deploy those marketing tactics across all the direct marketing channels.”

Movio Cinema currently holds marketing data covering 21 percent of cinema screens worldwide (15,970 screens). A subsidiary of ticketing provider Vista, the company notes that they are maintaining “real-time, authoritative data on the loyalty activity and transactions for many of the world’s biggest cinema chains,” and therewith capturing the behavior of 30 million moviegoers.

Every one of AMC’s guests manages their own way to connect–SMS and e-mail–when they opt-in, Cooke explains in view of privacy concerns. “We defer to what the customer wants to hear from us.” AMC Theatres takes that relationship very seriously, and extends this to its business partners. “While we are cautious and we preserve the trust in that relationship, we have created partnerships both on the studio side as well as for concessions. Essentially, we can work together to offer our guests something that neither one of us could on our own… We hold dear the relationship that we built with our customer and we will preserve that in a happy working partnership.”