How Moviegoer Data, Benchmarks, And Targeting Has Shifted For 2022
Movio's data science team are constantly working hard to provide bespoke analysis, enriching our knowledge of moviegoers, and helping Movio's clients to create more meaningful moviegoer connections.
Christine Rizzolo—Senior Manager in Media Operations and Insights at Movio—is one of many who work tirelessly behind the scenes with the data science team. From Movio's media campaigns for targeting and measurement to research products, weekend audience reports and insights, to bespoke research projects. Christine recently joined us on an episode of Behind the Screens—Movio & Numero’s industry podcast exploring the people behind the box office—to talk about the importance of this moviegoer data, and how analysis, benchmarks, and the cinema marketing targeting that comes of it has eveolved in 2021 and into the future.
The premium of moviegoer data
Moviegoer data is at an all-time premium. Since cinemas reopened in 2021, the ability to target an audience that has felt comfortable returning to cinemas post-shutdown is essential to getting people in seats.
Recalling a pre-pandemic campaign for Spider-Man: Far From Home, Rizzolo explained how “we bypassed targeting the most likely moviegoers; because they don’t need marketing to. They already knew the movie was coming out, where they were going to see it, and when. So we targeted the possible moviegoers. Those who might be interested in seeing the film.”
We compare this to a campaign for Spider-Man: No Way Home this past December. “Now, we’re basing our targeting on Marvel fans—some of which have already return to cinemas to see Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Eternals, Black Widow, or Shang-chi.
“Of those targeted moviegoers who had already returned, 23% converted and purchased tickets for Spider-Man: No Way Home, compared to only 4% of those who had yet to return.”
Being able to see, and target, actual ticket purchasers, particularly those who already came back to theatres in 2021 is more important than ever.
The newest benchmark: 2021
One of the biggest changes Movio has made to adapt when analysing data as a result of the pandemic has been to look at new benchmarks. “Previously, we were focused on historical campaign performance,” Rizzolo explained. “We would compare that to overall genre performance and analyse our latest campaign or look at a new release.
“And that’s still good to know. But our focus is now on 2021 performance as a benchmark. So much so that we’ve added it as an actual benchmark into our research console.”
Post-pandemic audience behaviour is of the greatest interest to our clients, and this new benchmark provides the best way to measure a new film’s performance with audience demographics and behaviour.
“Looking back to the year 2021 specifically has also shown us some insight on who has returned and who hasn’t. Plus what content is bringing the most people back, and what seems to be missing from the annual slate that could bring more moviegoers back.”
Who makes up those returning audiences?
Looking at pre-sales trends on a weekly basis has been new for Movio, and with each week—and each new release—we are finding more moviegoers returning for the first time since shutdowns began.
“We’ve learned that those moviegoers who were frequent or very frequent before the pandemic are back to their pre-pandemic patterns of frequency. So right now it’s about focusing on the occasional and infrequent moviegoers and getting them back into the cinemas.”
The trend of frequent moviegoers returning has been a beacon of good news throughout 2021, and through these pre-sales analyses we find out more about exactly who these moviegoers are.
The current pre-sales movie ticket purchasers are majority male (accounting for 61% of those purchases) and the majority are younger (aged between 12 and 34). Pairs and groups take the majority of these ticket purchases (84%), lending power to the notion of cinema’s pull as a social event, and a destination for friends and groups.
“Comparing the data to pre-pandemic shut down numbers, we can see a fair few similarities,” Rizzolo said. The pre-sales moviegoers were predominantly male, and that has shifted to a heavier weighting now, meaning fewer females are buying pre-sales tickets today than pre-2020. The average age of pre-sales moviegoers has also gone down significantly, from men in the range of 25 to 54 to a majority that is younger, aged 12 to 34.
“Moviegoers over the age of 55, as can be expected, are the slowest to return to cinemas.” Pre-pandemic, this audience favoured Tuesday screenings, as opposed to the Thursday and Friday screenings that make up 60% of the pre-sales majority’s purchases. That trend has solidified; older moviegoers were seeing 22% of their sessions on a Tuesday pre-pandemic, and that number is now up to 27%, with Friday sessions following at 19%.
Staying on target when it comes to marketing
In addition to their research, Christine’s team at Movio help movie marketers access moviegoer audiences so they can promote movies using Movio’s propensity-based algorithms. But there are many ways to target audiences and promote films.
“One targeting concept that I always like to recommend is multiple-target segments,” Rizzolo said. “We used this a bit pre-pandemic, but now it’s a strategy on almost every campaign from 2021.” Precise comparisons aren’t the only targeting strategy that we can rely on right now, especially if titles are more than two years old—placing them before the pandemic.
“You have to think ‘how else can I layer in to get incremental reach on this campaign?’ And this can come in the form of two different genre targets, or a secondary segment just focused on returned moviegoers.”
Christine and her team have found that those who have returned in the past year are less picky about the genre they’re going to see. “We can just pick something that’s new simply because it’s out and they like to go. I find that this is really beneficial because it gives you more learnings to take away from a campaign that can be used further down the film’s lifecycle.”
Returning Moviegoers are full of insights
These are only a taste of the insights were can learn by looking at our returning moviegoer audiences. Their data is already more important than ever, and is only becoming more-so as time goes on; how we use it, learn from it, and apply those learnings to movie marketing can make all the difference in driving box office to new heights.
Christine Rizzolo's full interview with Matthew Liebmann and Simon Burton was featured on a recent episode of Behind the Screens; to learn more about her insights and the research behind it, listen to the full episode.