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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Marketing on the Internet.

   
Author Topic: Marketing on the Internet.
Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-21-2001 06:59 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Marketing on the Internet.

We don’t seem to have a lot of traffic on our web site. In the past 20 days we have had 10,126 people buy tickets at our theatre. So we are averaging 500 people per day at the Rialto. I checked our statistics for our website for the past 20 days and this is what I found. We are getting 45 hits per day on our front page. This front page has all the show times and pricing information. But because both my business partner and I have our browser’s home page as our website’s home page we may account for as many as 10 hits per day for just us. We are getting 5.5 hits per day on our Coming Soon page and 4 hits per day on our About Rialto page.

We have printed our website address on all of our paperwork. It is on our business cards, in our print advertising, on our flyers that we distribute at the theatre and in our weekly email that we send to about 800 subscribers. After a year in operation, most search engines will direct you to our site if you type in the name correctly: Rialto Cinemas Lakeside. Now it is a success that we have signed up 800 subscribers for our weekly email letter. All those addresses came from either the web page or our in lobby sign-up sheets. We built it simple and uncomplicated so that it would load fast with a modem. There are no flash or popup menus. We didn’t want to turn anybody off before the page loaded.
http://www.rialtocinemas.com

We do list our show times on at least 10 other websites. Some we know about and some we don’t. Every month somebody tells us of a website that lists our show times that we didn’t know about. I guess they get them from the listing service that places our Yahoo and Hollywood Online show times. Our show times are listed in the San Francisco area, in Santa Rosa’s online newspaper and radio station listings. In our county there is a fellow who was the first to list movie times and his sites are very popular. I have asked him for how many hits he gets and will post that number here when he responds.

So, my conclusion is that the Internet is very important to market our theatre. There are unknown amounts of people getting the show information from an unknown selection of different websites. We have 800 people getting a letter from us in their inbox each and every week. From personal experience I know that they are getting a cursory look each week. But the hits on the website are disappointing. It’s important to maintain and to update each week, but it isn’t our prime marketing vehicle. It is still Newspapers and Answering Machines (We use Pac-Bell voice messaging).

What have you found to be helpful in driving people to your websites? Do you feel that having a website is absolutely necessary to running a successful theatre these days?

Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 02-21-2001 09:07 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I run a web site here in Huntsville that gives showtimes and general information about the theatres here, including projection quality reviews. I have generally been disappointed with the number of hits my site receives. Before I added showtimes, the site was just technical information, projection quality reviews, and historical information. I never got more than 10 hits per day. After adding showtimes, the number of hits went up to as many as 30-40 hits on weekend days and around 10-20 hits on other days. It shows that people generally come to my site because I have links to the showtimes for all the theatres in Huntsville and Decatur, and I've found that people generally do not care about the technical information, quality reviews, or historical information. One out a hundred people may visit the site to check out something other than the showtimes links or to see what new movies are playing this week.

Since I started talking about my site here on film-tech, I find that very few hits are from this geographic area. Most hits seem to be widely dispersed around the country (and the world).

As for providing a service for a theatre, I provide showtimes for a drive-in in Athens, AL when it is open during summer. I really don't know how many people came to get that information, but I was the only WWW site that I know of with the movie schedule for the drive-in. The manager appreciated me doing it for him and said, "Every little bit helps". I provided the showtimes for the drive-in free of charge, of course.

As for how important the internet is for a theatre's business, I'll say that there is a percentage of partrons that depend on WWW sites to get showtimes. Personally, I use Regal's comment card mechanism to report presentation quality notes back to the company, but I wonder how many people go to the trouble to do that.

I think that apathy is one of the main reasons that WWW sites aren't as successful as one might hope. It's probably the same reason that so many of the "dot-com" companies failed. People did not grasp the internet and use it in the way that many thought they would. I am a computer scientist (and internet user since 1988) and I admit disappointment in that area as well.

As for apathy, I even told Regal about the site where I rate projection quality (in my comment cards on a couple of occasions), but never got a single hit from regalcinemas.com . I got two or three hits from carmike.com long ago. When I have given the URL to theatre staff members that seemed interested, they either lost the piece of paper with the URL on it before they ever used it or they didn't have a computer and never saw it. The theatre companies and staff don't seem to care about someone reviewing the quality of their product and the customers don't seem to care to seek and consult such information. I'd say a theatre can use their WWW site for two things for visibility: provide showtimes (which they can probably get from other sites), and provide a feedback mechanism for customers (which few will probably use). I wonder how many customers send in comment cards through Regal's WWW site.

I'm sure there is a way to use the net to market theatres, but it may take time. The day where nearly everyone depends on the net for most information just isn't here yet. If newspapers disappear and everyone has a computer device with internet access near them or on them at all times during the day, then the marketing may be more successful. The cell-phone-internet-access things and the personal palm-sized computer things may be the start of that "net generation" of WWW-dependant people. Maybe, maybe not.

Ideas?

Evans A Criswell

Huntsville-Decatur Theatre Info Page
http://home.hiwaay.net/~criswell/theatre/

What is the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don't know and I don't care.


Adam Martin
I'm not even gonna point out the irony.

Posts: 3661
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 02-21-2001 09:58 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin       Edit/Delete Post 
Ian: Does your weekly email include showtimes? If so, that's 800 people a week that don't need to visit your site to find out what's playing when -- they have a local copy in their inbox until next week's email.

I think it's better to be able to market your showtimes directly to 800 people through email because they only have to ask for it once, rather than having to look for it every week.

What else do you send in the emails? Movie descriptions? The occasional discount coupon?

Maybe you could have a weekly trivia contest on the website where you pick an entry every week that would win a free pass or a free coke or something. Mention the contest in each weekly email along with last week's winner to drive more traffic to your website.

Or a weekly poll, where they could vote once for something like their Oscar picks, and return often throughout the week to see what the results look like.

Just some thoughts, since I don't know what your clientele or market is like.

Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 02-21-2001 10:53 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ian-

What you need is for me to design you a snazzy Flash intro! If that doesn't work, we'll go with something that NEVER fails! We'll simply add four or five MIDI tunes that play at the same time. We'll add dozens of looping animated GIFs that are designed to annoy and distract. We'll add banners for porno sites. We'll make 6 other pages load automatically when your home page opens. And if you really want the hits, we can make it so that when anybody tries to close a window, go to a different page, or anything else short of quitting the browser, your home page automatically loads again in a new window, creating a new hit each and every time. I can do this now with what I know. You'll be rolling in the hits for at least a few days!

Perhaps I'll build you a sample site just for fun.


John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 02-22-2001 06:45 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My suggestion to see how many people attending your theatre are actually using the website or e-mailed newsletter would be to put a dated discount coupon on the site and in the newsletter, and see how many use it. If 50% of your audience uses the coupon, you know you've got meaningful "eyeballs". If you only get 1% using it, either no one is reading the material, or they are too lazy to print it out.

------------------
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Eastman Kodak Company
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7419
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: 716-477-5325 Cell: 716-781-4036 Fax: 716-722-7243
E-Mail: john.pytlak@kodak.com
Web site: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion

Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7991
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2001 07:01 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm guessing that Adam is right on about the email newsletter thing. If people are getting showtimes that way, then they don't need to visit your web site.

Does your web hosting provider log the HTTP_REFERRER header? If so, you should be able to find out if people are getting to your web site via search engines or from a link somewhere.

Your web site is really good--it loads fast, has the showtimes on the index page, has driving directions, pictures, etc. The only thing I could imagine that you might want to add is a short "blurb" about each film under the title (just a couple of sentences, probably) that would give people some idea about the subject matter of each film. It might also be good to list which film is showing in which auditorium, although that can be difficult for a multiplex where prints get moved frequently. Other than that, though, it looks fine and is a big improvement over many theatres' web sites.

Barry Floyd
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Lebanon, Tennessee, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 02-22-2001 07:46 AM      Profile for Barry Floyd   Author's Homepage   Email Barry Floyd   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ian,

You had mentioned in your post that maybe as many as 10 hits a day just from yourself as you log on to the web. I also have my web-site set as the "default" home page on my browser, however my "counter" is configured where it won't count me. It uses my IP address to determine who I am and whether I should be counted.

I use a counter on my page from "www.thecounter.com". It is a free service, and tracks all traffic on my site and then emails me a report at the end of the week.

------------------
Barry Floyd
Floyd Entertainment Group
Nashville, Tennessee
(Drive-In Theatre - Start-Up)

Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2001 06:31 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As promised, I said I would post the information from what I think is our county's best web recourse for movie show times and information. The site is called the Sonoma County Movie Guy and he runs the show times for his page, the local daily paper and two local radio stations. He sent me his stats page, which I thought was very trusting of him.
http://www.sonomamovies.com/

He is getting about 75,000 hits per month, or 636 hits per day. He services several towns. The Santa Rosa page with all the show times on it is getting 697 hits per month and our theatre page is getting 375 hits per month. So our theatre page is getting less hits on his web site than our website is getting. I find this very interesting. I thought it would be more. But he is getting a huge number of hits on the site, over all. Now, these stats are for one of his sites only. He mirrors it to several newspapers and radio stations. So I have no idea what the totals are, really.

But think cumulatively. With all his web sites and our web site and the unknown number of other web sites that list our show times, we could have 500 people trying to access our show times per day and not even know it. Since our attendance is about 500 people per day, is everybody web savvy? I know that even though we are getting a lot of people looking, that doesn't mean they are all coming to shows, but they are interested.

Think about it.

Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-22-2001 06:47 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Adam,

Yes, the weekly email newsletter has the show times, feature descriptions and coming soon information. If people are receiving the newsletter, they have no reason to visit our web site.

Joe,

I know your tongue is firmly planted in your left cheek. I hate most flash animation. I hate pop-up windows; I hate being directed to a web site that I didn't want to go to. I've been to those porn sites that will not let go until you close your browser window a dozen times. I have even had to re-boot the computer to get away.

I had my site designed to be simple, fast and easy to navigate. I hope that people appreciate that feature.

The only time I like Flash sites is if they use Flash to tell a story. I find "intro" pages to be useless and time wasting. Most movie sites now feature a Flash intro and I find it annoying. What I want to see first is the table of contents, it isn't a book, it doesn't need a dust jacket, or a cover. I want to get to the information NOW!


Adam Martin
I'm not even gonna point out the irony.

Posts: 3661
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 02-22-2001 09:28 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin       Edit/Delete Post 
He, he, he. My favorite thing to hate is a flash banner ad. They can even talk to you. "Come on in and see some hot, sexy . . ." SHHH! THERE'S OTHER PEOPLE IN THE ROOM! AHHH! SHUT UP!

I, too, appreciate sites that are straight and to the point. Your home page tells you what you need to know and if you're looking for more, it's just a click away.

Matt Basford
Film Handler

Posts: 19
From: Nashville, TN, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 02-22-2001 09:32 PM      Profile for Matt Basford   Email Matt Basford   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Evans,
You would be surprised how many people use regalcinemas.com to voice their opinion on thier visit. Every so often we get a compiled list of comment cards emailed to us and the number of web comments is usually quite a few. I think it is maybe how it is presented. Say for Regal, they blast the url in your head so many times before the movie even begins in the 'non-sync'. Not to mention the phone recordings, and If I remember correctly its on the ticket stubs, drinks, and of course on the hard copy of the comment cards in the lobby. Thats a long answer to a shot question, sorry

------------------
Matt Basford
Regal Cinemas
Technical Services
Knoxville, TN
mattb@regalcinemas.com

Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 02-22-2001 11:41 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, Flash can be used for evil, but good web designers will ALWAYS put a "Skip Intro" link that loads FIRST and stays there throughout the entire intro. That link should take you to the TOC page or whatever. My student website has a Flash intro, but the frame on the left loads first, so you can go anywhere in the site before the Flash loads.

Flash is cool, and there's a lot of money in it. At least for me.

Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 02-23-2001 03:08 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Matt,

It's good to see a Regal technical person here participating on this site. I haven't seen Roger Frazee around here in a while. He participated for a while. I sent him some very positive comments about River Oaks Cinema 8 in Decatur a few months ago by email (a rather lengthy list of compliments about the presentation quality there) and I don't know if he ever read it. They're listed on my WWW site under the "ratings page" for that location.

About the Regal comment cards -- I know they get read, at least sometimes. On a few, I get an email response back, and on one occasion, I got four free movie passes in the mail. I wish the comment field was not limited to 255 characters on the WWW comment card form because I try to explain any defects I saw in the presentation in terms that the manager or projectionist would understand. I don't know how many of the comment cards actually make it back to the theatres. Sometimes, my comments actually seem to get results and at other times, I witness repeated problems over several months that would take someone a few mintues to fix. The lack of adjustable masking on many of the Huntsville Regal screens (Cobb Syndrome, 1.85:1 only) is the worst problem here and I wish Regal would make correcting that a priority.

About my comment about never getting a hit from regalcinemas.com: I'm curious. Matt, hit my site (URL at bottom) from Regal so I can see how it shows up (give me a time when you hit it if you do). Regal may be set up in a way that their hits show up as a different domain. I could have been getting hits from Regal all along without knowing it. I have had Knoxville hits before; maybe they were from Regal.

Most of the hits on my site are not local, but are due to hits from people reading these forums. I have not attempted to advertise my site in any way in a long time. It's hobby only and I receive no income from the site. I improve it whenever I have time as a full-time research employee and Ph.D. student in Computer Science. That's one reason why my site looks like it was made in 1995. I need to bite the bullet and fix that, and find a way to spread the word about it again.

Back to the main topic: In a nutshell, the key to having a successful WWW site is to be sure people know about it and provide something useful, as well as something to keep them coming back, no matter what you're trying "sell" with your site. Since I'm not selling anything with my site, it really doesn't matter how popular it is. Don't annoy your visitors with popup boxes and music or sounds that automatically play.

Huntsville-Decatur Theatre Info Page:
(Showtime links, Historical info, proj. qual. ratings):
http://home.hiwaay.net/~criswell/theatre/





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