How Odeon drives growth with an AI-powered search strategy – Think with Google

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As a senior member of ODEON’S marketing team, Pippa Ward heads up most of the cinema’s online activities. Here, she explains how reshaping the company’s Search strategy helped it boost growth whilst meeting evolving consumer needs.

When ODEON first opened its doors in 1930s Birmingham, it was the golden age of Hollywood. And while the cinema’s industrial surroundings may have lacked the glamour of Sunset Boulevard, its art deco architecture radiated luxury and entertainment. It was a place not only to watch films but to experience them.

That ambition still sits at the very heart of our brand, but the cinema landscape has changed almost beyond recognition. Where the majority of ticket sales used to be from spontaneous walk-ins, way over half of movie-goers now pre-book online.1

This means Search is now one of our main online marketing channels. At a time when streaming services are proliferating, it’s where we remind people that there’s nothing like the experience of going to the cinema.

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But our goal to maximise Search coverage and reach culminated in a campaign structure so complex that it ended up harming our performance. So — encouraged by our agency partner MG OMD — we decided to simplify our approach with the help of AI.

A seamless journey from search to seat

As many people now spend less time in the office, they’re generally less exposed to out-of-home advertising — and have fewer water-cooler conversations which may otherwise help them discover new or upcoming movies. In addition, reduced budgets following COVID-19, as well as industry strikes, have led to a significant decline in marketing spend for the majority of today’s releases.

This makes it more important than ever for us to stand out on Search, where, as seen through rising interest for “movies near me”, an increasing number of our customer journeys begin.

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