Last month AAM CEO John Aalbers wrote a piece on cinema's impending second digital revolution for Cinema Technology Magazine. The key idea is that "Cinema's second digital revolution must really focus on the audience". You can read the full article online, but here is an edited version:
Digital Cinema 2.0
The first digital revolution in the cinema industry sparked a dramatic change in the way films were projected and today over 92% of the world’s screens are digital. But this revolution is just the tip of the digital iceberg, and exhibitors need to do more than just change their hardware in order to properly address the challenges they face.
Despite the digital projection revolution, exhibitors still face the age-old challenge of maximising occupancy in theatres, where the average occupancy over a year can be as little as 15%. Consumers are used to getting what they want, when they want, and in the way that they want. Cinemas today need to embrace a more personalised experience - from the way audiences watch content through to the adverts they are exposed to.
To successfully compete in this evolving market, exhibitors need to acknowledge that the demand for new, alternative content, relevant advertising and memorable, engaging experiences will be the drivers to the next generation of digital success.
Adjusting to the technological change
Audiences have changed over the last few years. The explosion of connected devices means today, not only do we have computers on our desks, but we also have them in our pockets thanks to the likes of Apple and Samsung. Consumers rely heavily on technology – whether that’s on-the-go, or in the comfort of their home.
It is imperative for cinemas to create the engaging customer experiences that today’s consumers demand
So in the new technology-led, connected world, it is imperative for cinemas to create the engaging customer experiences that today’s consumers demand. The tired notion of turning your phone off in the cinema needs to be forgotten if exhibitors want to stay relevant in the entertainment world.
‘Second screen’ experiences, where cinema-goers can watch content on the big screen whilst simultaneously interacting with that content on a second screen (like a smartphone) are the future. Embracing the second screen will drive engagement, competitive advantages and revenue. Offering exclusive promotions to customers also helps provide the personal touch to a cinema experience.
Creating digital and content harmony
Audiences crave personalised experiences that embrace their personal devices, but a one-size-fits-all approach to content cannot be applied to paying audiences. The more astute management of content will bring a number of benefits to theatres – the process will not only improve customer experiences and drive repeat visits, but also streamline operations.
Understanding and responding to local audience demands is vital, but it is equally important for head offices to know what content is playing within their cinemas on a national (or international) level at all times. Embracing centralisation will offer a birds-eye view of all operations across their circuits, and enable exhibitors to gain control of content on a completely new level. Centralised systems also provide insight on key functional requirements like live playbacks, log collections, and detecting any content or KDM problems prior to missed shows. The control remains with head office – problems can be fixed before individual cinemas become affected.
The customer experience is key to every single cinema across the world
The customer experience is key to every single cinema across the world. Adopting centralised systems, so that mundane operational tasks can be automated and monitored from head office, will enable cinema staff to create the better, more personalised customer experiences that audiences are crying out for.
Welcoming new opportunities
As the new digital world continues to transform all parts of our lives, it is becoming more and more apparent that the cinema will change too. By taking control of the customer experience cinemas can create truly great and lasting customer impressions. The exhibitors that choose to ignore the potential and opportunity to focus more upon their audiences, will be left behind.