Moving your cinema foyer online: The Audience Project (TAP)

Moving Your Cinema Foyer Online: The Audience Project
Ben Johnson
Updated on 25/03/2022

I know it might sound counter-intuitive to people who work outside of the movie business, but most cinemas across Europe and the Americas don’t advertise online. There are notable exceptions like Pathe in the Netherlands but as an industry online advertising is still nascent.
This gap in digital marketing competence is because advertising has traditionally been the role of the film distributor and their agencies. Over the next 5 years this situation is going to rapidly change and cinemas will be beefing up their teams and skills in order to keep pace with a wide variety of changes. The principal one being the trend that online ticketing is growing. Last year the USA saw 20% increase in online ticketing transactions, many European countries also saw similar jumps as cinema audiences trend towards convenience. Cinemas now have to contend in a virtual world where the rules of differentiation and competition are structured differently to the traditional brick and mortar business.
In order to get a better understanding of how cinemas are operating digitally, we conducted an audit of major chains across Europe in 2018. The audit examined how each cinema’s website was performing from a variety of important online criteria: such as how the sites ranked against Google’s search algorithms through to how each site performed from a user experience perspective for online ticketing. Our findings are summarised in the video below but the key point we consistently encountered was that most cinemas were failing to set up proper data capture routines around key audience buying behaviours. This was because standard protocols involving tools like Google Tag Manager were largely absent from most of the sites we reviewed. These routines are standard across all other industries working in e-commerce; cinema as an industry is lagging behind.

Major chains will start investing heavily in their digital setup and this investment will leave smaller chains and indies scrambling to compete. So we have set up a service and technology stack called The Audience Project (or TAP for short, a project that has also been funded by Creative Europe) to help advise and service the cinema industry to meaningfully engage today’s digital audiences.
TAP consists of a series of routines for detailed data collection from the cinema’s site that connects all the important audience interactions to tools like Google tag manager which in turn allows us to connect TAPs creative platform to ad exchanges like Facebook and Google to target relevant ads at consumers.
Once integrated with a cinemas website the system measures and records user interactions with ticketing and anything else that is deemed relevant to build up a picture of the cinema audience and their behaviours over time. This data can then be used to dynamically retarget users with relevant ads who have visited the site or to prospect for new audiences by modelling their behaviours.


TAP aims to bring a cinema’s foyer into the digital realm, with the goal to get busy and distracted audiences off their couches and into a screening near them. Cinemas will have the ability to target and contextually advertise with the right message at the right time to the right consumer that includes the relevant point of sale.

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There are a huge range of interesting online advertising opportunities once the data capture routines are set up properly:
Scenario 1A user comes to the coming soon section of your website and watches the trailer for new the Aliens movie from start to finish several times. With TAP we would be able to record this level of interest so that prior to the premier we would be able to return to that user with an advert for Aliens and showtimes and ticketing options.
Scenario 2A user is in the process of booking a ticket online. The doorbell goes and they get distracted, they are halfway through the booking process. TAP would record this and start sending out contextual ads (Social media and display advertising) to remind the user to book the ticket.


Targeted ads could have a range of specific messaging or promotional offers in order to remind the user to complete their purchase.


Early results are in and we have a number of case studies to show that cinemas can clearly boost their revenues from services like TAP. We’ll be attending Cinemacon and Cineeurope this year. If you would like to talk to us about your data strategy simply hit the contact button below.

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Moving Your Cinema Foyer Online: The Audience Project