Sonny Waheed, Chief Marketing Officer

    Today, cinemas around the world are all competing for the same goal – higher levels of occupancy. But in the new connected world, retaining and attracting regular customers and appealing to an increasingly diverse audience is proving difficult. In my view, there has been very little innovation in the cinema that is reflective of broad changes in other sectors. OK, on the technology front, we now have surround sound, digital projection, and have dabbled with 3D. And cinemas have also tried to drive engagement with deals in the foyer, or ticketing with partners via mobile. But there has yet to be what we consider to be a major a revolution in the industry that has driven substantial changes in customer behaviour.

    We like to think we are kick-starting that revolution.

    We like to think we are kick-starting that revolution. Today we announced the launch of Thunderstorm. We believe Thunderstorm will shake up the industry, opening exhibitors up to new opportunities that drive customer engagement as well as revenues. Developments elsewhere have changed how consumers find, digest and even share content. Their expectations for “personalised” content and experiences now pervade every aspect of their lives. Their expectations govern their engagement with service providers of many hues, and in turn dictate how much they are prepared to invest in their experiences.

    Tailored specifically for the cinema industry, Thunderstorm is a one stop shop for cinemas of all sizes to access a range of technologies from industry partners to attract new customers, enhance the overall cinema experience, as well as help improve theatre management. What we think is unique about Thunderstorm is that it brings innovation directly to exhibitors – they can pick and choose the applications and technologies they need, as and when they need them.

    We have designed Thunderstorm with the intention that every technology or application available within the platform plays a role in engaging audiences or improving revenues. Some of the partners that are included within Thunderstorm include:

    • CineCardz, which allows exhibitors to personalise the cinema experience during the pre-show with on-screen video greeting cards. These can range from birthday messages and even marriage proposals (for the avid cinema-loving couple).
    • CinemaConversations, which uses social media to drive audience engagement, with shared Twitter and Instagram experiences in the cinema lobby.
    • Cinema Intelligence is all about personalising the cinema experience. By monitoring customer trends and behaviour analytics, exhibitors can not only schedule their movies better, but they can target their advertising more efficiently (and in turn, maximise revenues).
    • iPlateia uses proprietary sound recognition to bring promotional activity to the second screen, where exhibitors can send vouchers, link advertising campaigns, as well as send polls and quizzes directly to the customer’s mobile phone.

    We’ve played a key role in the development of cinema technology for well over 10 years, and we believe the launch of Thunderstorm will play a pivotal role within cinemas of the future. With services like Netflix and Amazon Prime transforming the way people watch content – and with social media sites like Instagram and Twitter changing how consumers share their content – today’s consumers are craving customised, personalised and immersive experiences. The cinema now needs to follow suit, and if exhibitors want to remain relevant (and also profitable), then they need to take advantage of technologies that embrace these new consumer behaviours.

    Cinemas need to engage with their audiences

    From the box office through to the foyer and the big screen itself – cinemas need to engage with their audiences. We are addressing this need – and with the launch our new platform, we are ensuring exhibitors are prepared for the Thunderstorm that lies ahead.

    Thunderstorm - The Cinema Industry's Marketplace


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