• Nick Adams

CINEMA AUDIT 2021 - THE U.S.A.



INTRODUCTION


Gruvi has recently conducted an A.U.D.I.T. of the websites of the U.S.' major cinema chains, to determine how effectively those websites engage with their online audiences. It is our belief that by sharing these results - for free - we can help cinema chains learn from their own (and their competitors’) successes and failures, which will enable them to further improve the online service they offer.

The following three criteria were used to determine the results:


ALGORITHM

The Algorithm score is based on each cinema’s best use of Google’s search algorithm within its page infrastructure.


DATA

Shows whether the page uses state-of-the-art AddOn integrations, which provide the ability to better understand audiences and – crucially - track sales conversions.


TRAFFIC

Shows the traffic each page generates within a month & how long people stay on that page, as well as how many different pages on the site the user visits.


Each cinema chain has a score determined from the results of the above criteria which is shown alongside the scores of its competitors.


In this furlough period, cinemas should be looking at upgrading their websites and digital marketing activities. It seems likely that cinemas’ greatest competition will come from the living room couch, and the numerous streaming services that are currently available or will soon be entering the market.


Studio ad dollars look likely to remain split between supporting theatrical and VOD releases, particularly with Warner Bros’ announcement late last year that they will be releasing their entire 2021 slate in the US simultaneously in cinemas and on HBO max. This trend may well continue after lockdown and could end up being the studios’ de facto ongoing strategy.


To find out more, click here to set up a meeting call

with the head of our team in North America.


RESULTS AND KEY FINDINGS


We reviewed the following cinema chains in the U.S.:



Despite the challenging landscape, most of the cinema chains can boast of strong work from their digital marketing teams. In terms of digital visibility in the U.S. AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Alamo Cinemas appear to be the leading chains. However, we also observed weaknesses in SEM visibility and approaches to the collection of audience data from the majority of cinema chains, as more effort is needed to support proper integration of Google and Facebook plugins. SEM marketing was relatively low, with cinemas seeming to invest more in organic placements and traffic. Paid traffic also took a hit last year, as most chains chose to rely heavily on direct & referral visits to their websites.

Despite these challenges, the results show a high investment in digital marketing technology across the board, with most cinema chains boosting their data warehouses and optimizing their approaches to Google.

The principle goal of the cinema chains in 2021 will be to drive more quality traffic to their sites, and increase the conversion rate there. The challenges they face include maintaining an awareness of the latest Search Engine Updates, and improving their page speeds for low bandwidth connections, in order to keep up with the growing importance of mobile phone usage (which is already the dominant driver of traffic to their sites).



ALGORITHM - definition: Website optimised technically & structurally for Google’s algorithm (which is frequently updated).

Pros: Cons:

- Increasing SEO mobile visibility - Decreasing SEO desktop visibility

- Increasing Keyword indexation - Weak performance/page speeds

- Better quality backlinks - Overall declining traffic

- Major differences between the chains, with most

markedly behind AMC and Cinemark


Quick Wins

1. Most chains need to significantly invest in SEO Audit to fix technical and structural issues for better

Google rankings.

2. Compress images for better performance on cell phones.


● AMC has the highest SEO Visibility from Search Engines, particularly on mobile, which leads to high traffic.


● Cinemark is a distant second place but is notably higher in organic keywords - meaning it should perform better for targeted keyword searches.


● Harkins, B&B, Alamo, Malco, National Amusements were making low to non-existent bids with SEM traffic, relative to the top three largest chains.


● AMC has the biggest number of incoming links to their website, which helps generate more referral

traffic from partner sites and/or promotions. If used properly, this backlink metric is very important for high search rankings.

● SEM performed significantly lower than SEO for all of the cinema chains, with AMC and Cinemark taking the lead in terms of SEM visibility.



DATA - definition: data point integrations to measure success & understand your audiences

Pros: Cons:

- All websites are using Google Analytics - Adword conversions and pixel & dynamic

- All but three sites have implemented Google - The majority of websites still haven’t

Tag Manager. implemented Adword conversions, and Pixel

- Most websites are also using Google Analytic & Dynamic Retargeting.

Audiences - One chain appears to have no tag manager,

- Most chains are measuring their real ROI through adword conversions, or audience tagging

advertising/Conversion Pixels structure in place.


Quick Wins:

  1. Continue investing in a structure that leverages the full potential of Google Dynamic Retargeting, Adword conversions, and Google Analytics Audiences.

  2. Build a proper data warehouse for a seamless integration of all relevant metrics.


● Harkins and AMC cinemas have the best marketing technology and data integration on their websites, followed by Alamo Drafthouse. These are the three highest scores across the U.S., while the remaining chains continue to lag behind.

● 10 out of 10 cinema chains in the U.S. use Google Analytics on their website to progress user data.

● 10 out of 10 cinema chains in the U.S. use Google Analytics on their website to progress user data.


● 7 out of 10 cinema chains in the U.S. use Google Tag Manager on their website to administer their website's plugins, and create Data Layers that offer more insights into the collected data.

● Only 1 out of 10 cinema chains in the U.S. use Google Adwords Conversion to measure the success of either Google Search, Google Display or Youtube Advertising.

● 8 out of 10 cinema chains in the U.S. use Facebook Pixel to measure the success of their Facebook Advertising.


● Alamo and Cinemark used the most plugins running on their website (including a number of high priced software packages), which helps maximise usage of their user data, but on the other hand might lower page speed and accessibility.



TRAFFIC - definition: Website visits & sources of traffic

● AMC Entertainment has the highest score, followed closely by Regal Cinemas and Cinemark Theatres. AMC’s lead is mostly driven by the number of monthly visitors and by its high performance on direct and referral traffic.


● All websites have good visitor duration performance, scoring 5 min or more per visit on average. Regal and Marcus have the highest number of pages visited (4.0 on average), while Southern has the lowest (2.08 pages on average).

● Alamo generates the most percentage traffic from social media (by using more Calls To Action in their communication), but lower direct traffic than the majority of its competitors.


● Southern has the highest referral traffic and generates the most visits from back links, followed closely by Alamo.


● Alamo receives the highest percentage of respondents to their display ads, contrasting strongly with the majority of competitors, who appear to be investing less intensively in paid traffic.



CONCLUSIONS


U.S. leading cinema chains need to remain aware of the frequent & continual changes to the digital marketplace, and each one needs to remain aware of the ongoing activities of its competitors.

Key subjects to focus on in 2021 include:

● Increase individual page speed & performance


● Be aware of & act upon all search engine updates


● Continually assess & re-assess social media strategy


● Continue learning from all available data and build marketing funnels for advertising

● Allocate a greater advertising budget to significantly improve results


To find out more, click here to set up a meeting call

with the head of our team in North America.


METHODOLOGY

CAVEAT: The tools we use in our methodology only provide a ‘skin deep’ overview of the web operations and therefore may not reflect the actual workings of a site, particularly if your Data integrations are server side. In order to do a more thorough review we would need access to Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. If you are interested in a more detailed audit or would like to enquire about this study please reach out directly to nikolaj@gruvi.tv.

Since conducting this study for the first time in 2018, Gruvi has collected significantly more data and enhanced the systems we use. Our updated KPIs reflect key digital marketing changes first seen in 2019, including the increasing rise of mobile phone usage, changes to Google algorithms, and various new state-of-the-art plugins.

Data collection and analysis was conducted through market-leading software for search engine optimisation (SEO), and social media and web analytics including Search Metrics, Moz, Google lighthouse, SimilarWeb, Brandwatch, RivalIQ & Ghostery.

Provider Web Address

SEO Searchmetrics https://www.searchmetrics.com

SEO Moz https://www.moz.com

SEO Google Lighthouse https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse

Data Ghostery https://www.ghostery.com

Social RivalIQ https://www.rivaliq.com

Social Brandwatch https://www.brandwatch.com

Traffic Similarweb https://www.similarweb.com

All Supermetrics https://www.supermetrics.com

Each category has individually collected KPIs from various leading marketing software providers in the fields of SEO, SEM, Social Media, Data Integrations and Webtraffic, weighted by their importance.


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