Cinema Audiences: re-targeting loyal customers and advertising new releases.

Cinema Audience
Ben Johnson
Updated on 12/10/2023

The following is a series of test we are running on Grand Teatret cinema in Copenhagen, Denmark, to show how powerful online advertising can be in driving advance ticket sales for independent film. You can read more about the project here.

The Audience Project using audience behaviour to improve admissions and predict success

Key Findings

  • Retargeting ads to users who have previously engaged with the website was hugely effective at delivering more sales. It cost £1.76 to convert an existing audience member to buy a ticket on Facebook.
  • Prospecting for new audiences who had not used the Grande website in the past improved from previous studies. It cost £3.95 to convert a new audience into buying a ticket on Facebook.

Based on the evidence cinemas should invest in prospecting for new audiences and once those audiences have engaged the cinema should switch to retargeting to remind them to continue to book tickets for upcoming films.
Although prospecting is more expensive the investment should be seen as a small commitment to the lifetime value of the customer as retargeting subsequently builds a virtuous circle of desirable audience behaviors that build revenue. The key highlights from these tests were:

  • Retargeting users yielded who had visited www. generated a Return On Advertising (ROA) of 14 – meaning each £ used in ads delivered £14 revenue.
  • Our new Facebook advertising strategy based on manual ad optimisation significantly improved ROA from 1.3 to 3.67 when we prospected for new audiences that had not visited the Grande site.
  • Overall purchase numbers increased by 101.5% during the period we advertised relative to the week previous
  • The purchase conversion rate increased by 47.5% during the period we advertised relative to the week previous

If you are interested in reading our previous case studies:

  • Audiences that are drawn to a cinema website via ads for one particular film often navigate further around the site, viewing details of other films playing at the same date/time.
  • It is therefore important to advertise the full range of films being shown at a cinema.
  • There is a strong correlation between a cinema ad and consumer behavior, with 85% of people buying tickets within 24 hours of viewing an ad.
  • Video ads targeted at a specific & motivated audience are dramatically more effective than ads featuring still images, with a Return On Advertising (ROA) of x 9.6.

If you are interested in reading further into the results from these tests pls see below.

The psychology of online audiences – the data:

Paid advertising for a single film title can generate an impact on overall sales; people will investigate and purchase/reserve tickets for other titles.


Visitors to the website who purchase/reserve tickets are also interested in new release titles:

Test 6. Facebook advertising – a new strategy

Previous Facebook advertising strategies had delivered disappointing results so we decided to trial a new approach: rather than relying on Facebook’s automatic bidding system for our cinema advertising costs we decided instead to place our bids manually. By setting the target cost per customer 30 times higher than the actual expected cost we ensured that Facebook’s advertising algorithm delivered the highest quality traffic/users.
Our hypothesis worked: we saw a low conversion cost and an impressive ROA of 3.67 when searching for new potential cinema-goers. The campaign also identified ‘lookalikes’ to those users who had previously purchased tickets, and we used versions of the following video ad on Instagram and Facebook:



  • The average Cost of Sales per ticket was £3.95
  • The Return on Advertising was 3.67
  • Sales followed within 24 hours of viewing the ad

Test 7. Re-engaging with existing cinema goers

A tracking pixel was integrated into the Grand Teatret cinema website several months ago, consequently enough time had passed for us to collect valuable information about users who had engaged with the website.These existing customers (who had visited pages for individual films, and/or purchased/reserved tickets during the last six months) were targeted with multiple video ads across mobile and desktop.

  • The average Cost of Sales per Ticket was £1.76 (ticket costs £11.00)
  • Sales followed within 24 hours of viewing the ad.


Re-targeting existing cinema goers (and those who failed to complete previous tickets transactions online) is an easy & profitable way to sell cinema tickets. Cinemas should include re-marketing and up-sell/cross-sell campaigns in their advertising strategy
An online campaign to initially identify and reach new cinemagoers may not be immediately profitable, but once those potential audience members are known it becomes far less expensive to retarget them – subsequent retargeting campaigns (built around video clips) deliver a far higher conversion rate, so the long term benefits of building such an audience database must be taken into account when assessing the value and cost of an initial targeting campaign.

Next Steps:

  • Assess the impact on ticket sales of individuals who are active users of Social Media.
  • Assess the potential value of a cinema proactively increasing the numbers of their own followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

If you would like to know more CONTACT US

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