• Ben Johnson

U.K. Cinemas Audit 2019

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

U.K. Cinemas Audit 2019
U.K. Cinemas Audit 2019


Gruvi has recently conducted its annual A.U.D.I.T. of the websites of the UK and Europe’s major cinema chains, in terms of their effective engagement with 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, in turn, enable them to further improve the online service they offer their customers.

This report was put together in January 2020, analysing data that was collected a month earlier. In that respect, we acknowledge that the audit offers a snapshot of the online activities undertaken by the various cinema chains at that particular time (December 2019), and therefore may not reflect the range of activities a particular cinema chain may have undertaken throughout the year.

We are also aware that it can be argued that there is a subjective element within the assessment process we used in order to ascertain each individual cinema chain’s User Rating, but it is our belief that by making all of our findings (including the raw data) available for further analysis we can show a valid justification for all of our findings.

The following five criteria were used to determine the results of the A.UD.I.T.:


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


Refers to the user experience of the site and looks at factors that affect usability & the user experience.


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


Rates the cinema chain’s social media activity, including activities such as blogging. Measures the ability to create original content, and the quality of that content in terms of attracting audiences.


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

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


We reviewed the following cinema chains in the UK:

Strong work from the digital marketing teams at practically all cinema chains has seen the UK’s overall country score increase by an impressive 9.39 points year on year. The results show a high investment in digital marketing technology across the board, with each cinema chain boosting their data warehouses and optimising their user experiences.



For further information about the study CONTACT US


Cineworld and Odeon both saw significant improvements on their 2018 results, but Cineworld ranks Number One in 2019 for the first time, as the result of a very successful boost in their overall digital marketing activity.

Losing traffic is a phenomenon we can see across Europe, but most UK cinema chains have already taken steps to counter this with backlink strategies and increased advertising spends on display ads and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). While some of the cinema chains’ social media strategies seem a little outdated it is encouraging to see they have all commissioned paid advertising on at least one social media platform in order to highlight their current program of films, membership schemes, competition sweepstakes, or key upcoming film releases.

The UK is still significantly ahead of all other territories in terms of its digital strategy and use of cutting edge digital marketing technology and remains the strongest market throughout Europe. However the UK’s leading cinema chains need to remain aware of the frequent & continual changes to the digital marketplace, particularly amongst smartphone users (which already account for +80% of all traffic to their sites), and each one needs to remain aware of the ongoing activities of its competitors.

Key subjects to focus on in 2020 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



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

Key Findings:

  • Odeon did the best work with SEO and has the highest SEO Visibility from Search Engines UK, which leads to high traffic.

  • Odeon has the highest Mobile SEO Visibility, which drives additional traffic from mobile devices that use search engines.

  • Odeon's website has 76,357 Keywords indexed by search engines, which helps drive users to the site through various search terms.

  • Odeon has started investing more in Search Engine Marketing and is significantly ahead of its competition.

  • Cineworld has most 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.


  • Increasing SEO mobile visibility

  • Increasing Keyword indexation

  • Better quality backlinks

  • Rising SEM use


  • Decreasing SEO desktop visibility

  • Weak performance/page speeds (due to incompatibility with Google updates)

  • Overall declining traffic

Quick Wins:

  • Invest in SEO Audit to fix technical and structural issues for better Google rankings

  • Compress images for better performance on mobile phones


Definition: User journey, ease of use, accessibility, and offerings

Key Findings:

  • Odeon has the best overall user experience.

  • Cineworld has the highest number of monthly searches & people coming to their website (which speaks for their brand popularity).

  • Odeon is ranking best for current blockbusters and therefore potentially gains more traffic than their competition.

  • Empire offers the best performing website in terms of page speed.

  • Odeon has the best accessibility & navigation for the user, measured via Google Lighthouse.


  • Almost all KPIs in this category have improved in 2018: increased offerings, fewer steps to booking a ticket, improved accessibility & mobile-friendliness


  • Page speed & performance are also a weakness in this category

Quick Wins:

  • Optimise page loading times & keep user focus


Definition: Data point integrations to measure success & understand your audiences

Key Findings:

  • Cineworld has the best marketing technology and data integration on its website, followed by Odeon. These are the two highest scores across Europe.

  • 9 out of 9 cinema chains in the UK use Google Analytics on their website to progress user data.

  • 8 out of 9 cinema chains in the UK use Google Tag Manager on their website to administer their website's plugins, and create Data Layers that offer more insight into data.

  • 6 out of 9 cinema chains in the UK use Google Adwords Conversion to measure the success of either Google Search, Google Display or Youtube Advertising.

  • 8 out of 9 cinema chains in the UK use Facebook Pixel to measure the success of their Facebook Advertising.

  • Cineworld has the most plugins running on their website (including a number of high priced software packages), which helps maximise usage of their user data but can also lower page speed and accessibility


  • All websites are using Google Analytics

  • Most sites have implemented Google Tag Manager (which will save time with future integration)

  • Most cinema chains are measuring their real ROI through advertising/Conversion Pixels


  • Adword conversions and Pixel & Dynamic Retargeting are still rarely used

Quick Wins:

  • Continue migrating integrations to Google Tag Manager

  • Build a proper data warehouse


For further information about the study CONTACT US



Definition: Social media channels, their interactions & user mentions on the web

Key Findings:

  • Cineworld has the most influence on Social Media, with the biggest following on Facebook

  • 7 out of 9 ran Facebook ads during December 2019

  • Cineworld has the strongest YouTube Channel in terms of high view rates and subscriptions

  • Odeon has the most advanced Instagram profile, using frequent Instagram Stories to gain a high number of new followers

  • Empire has the highest interaction rate on social media, its relatively low number of followers are the most loyal.

  • Cineworld is the no.1 most mentioned cinema chain across the web in the UK, with around 3,450 mentions per month on blogs, forums, check-in posts or individual social media posts. This has a significant impact on all Social KPIs, with an Overall Score of 9.68 in this category.


  • Use of the newest social media formats

  • Almost every chain has started using social media advertising


  • Lowest scores compared to other categories and a drop from 2018

  • Lack of interactions on social media channels

  • Lack of mixed content

  • Low use of hashtags or @-mentions

  • Low interaction by page with users

  • Blogs not updated or missing

Quick Wins:

  • Consider overall Social Media Strategy for content distribution

  • Reach out to your audiences by growing your community

  • Consider using a blog with entertaining content (and indexed keywords from articles) to help with both social media and traffic


Definition: Website visits and sources of traffic

Key Findings:

  • Odeon has the highest score, but Vue has the highest overall traffic over the last 3 months.

  • Odeon has the longest visit duration.

  • Curzon has the highest amount of referral traffic from their created backlinks.

  • Picturehouse generates the most percentage of traffic from social media (by using more call to actions in their communication).

  • Cineworld has the highest percentage of the user responding to their E-Mail newsletter.

  • Showcase receives the highest percentage of respondents to their display ads.


Most website visits come from direct & organic traffic with increasing traffic from referrals, social & display media


Noticeable decline of overall traffic, less E-Mail newsletter traffic, high bounce rates, and less time spent website

Quick Wins:

Keep building further traffic sources


For further information about the study CONTACT US



Since conducting this study for the first time in 2018 Gruvi has collected significantly more data and enhanced the system we use. Our updated KPIs reflect key digital marketing changes 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 were conducted through market-leading software for search engine optimization (SEO), and social media and web analytics including Search Metrics, Moz, Google lighthouse, SimilarWeb, Brandwatch, RivalIQ & Ghostery.

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

This report was predominantly compiled by Daniel Gschaider, a senior member of the Gruvi technical and operations team. Dan is available for freelance consultation work and can be contacted via his LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielgschaider/.


For further information about the study CONTACT US