Odeon to embrace mobile phones in cinemas with iBeacon trial

Marketing Week Live: Odeon is trialling ways to make the experience of going to the cinema better by embracing mobile phones and making use of technology such as iBeacons.

Odeon

Speaking at Marketing Week Live, Odeon’s commercial director Andy Edge says Odeon is looking to challenge the idea that cinemas are a place where mobile phones should be banned. Bearing in mind that almost everyone has one in their pocket, Odeon is looking at how it can use mobile phones to make the experience of going to the cinema better, he adds.

That includes a trial of iBeacons in the next couple of months, with Odeon hoping to use the technology to welcome people to the cinema and let them know about special offers and share information.

It is also looking at scanning technology that would allow customers to scan film posters with their mobile phones to see movie trailers and receive reminders when those films are released in the cinema.

Odeon has already made some moves into mobile, joining up with the Cinime app to let viewers interact with the big screen but is looking to take this further by again offering reminders that send an email about film trailers you saw and liked.

Edge says this is all an attempt to make coming into a cinema, buying tickets and refreshments and the pre-show before the film starts part of the cinema experience and part of the reason why people visit the cinema.

“Should cinemas be the place that mobiles are banned? In one way you say yes, this is the one place in the world you do not look at your phone, you turn it off. The other school of thought says how do you enable the mobile to make the experience better? Why don’t we try and make the pre-show a bigger part of the experience?

”Rather than the second screen being passive how do we make it active? Some of that is quite bold thinking but we can’t escape that second screen,” he added.

Edge believes iBeacons also offer Odeon the opportunity to gain more insights on the people visiting its cinemas. He says around a third of its customers, or 2.5 million people, have signed up to its loyalty scheme and a third have agreed to CRM. However, that leaves a large majority of customers that Odeon doesn’t know anything about.

“As a retailer we are looking at how we can use WiFi and iBeacon technology to give us more insight. Without being intrusive we want to understand things like using mobile technology to see average dwell time in the foyer, what is people’s route through the cinema, do you go in and come back again? You can’t talk to them if you know that but it at least gives insight into customers in the retail space,” he says. 

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