MoviePass is using location data for a new ad play

In a couple months, MoviePass, the popular movie-theater subscription service, will open up its platform for advertising.

According to Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass, the app will work directly with brands and through iHeartMedia to sell ad formats, including in-app ad banners, email campaigns and in-app pop-ups driven by customer location. The pitch: the promise of precise location and sales data for targeting.

The app can monitor at what point targeted audiences see advertisers’ media. And because the audience is required to physically check in to a movie through the app, MoviePass is able to layer precise location data. This allows MoviePass to better evaluate campaign performance because it can track in-store purchase rates given the foot-tracking data it collects.

“For movies, one of the big challenges is, how do we reconcile which movie a consumer sees?” said James Douglas, svp and executive director of social media at agency Society. “We can track foot traffic to theaters; however, we can’t be precise as to what movie a consumer sees because the movie theaters are beside one another, and foot-traffic tracking isn’t that precise.”

MoviePass users buy a $9.95 monthly subscription to see a movie a day, less than the price of a single movie ticket. In the six months since it was purchased by data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. in August 2017, the app has amassed 1.5 million subscribers from its initial 20,000 subscribers and generated $9 million in revenue in 2017, according to Lowe, who is also a Netflix co-founder.

“Our longer-term vision is to really build out this idea of a night at the movies,” said Lowe, “and tell you about all these things you can do before or after the movie or how to get there.”

Although ad formats will be new to the app, MoviePass has promoted movies in search results and email campaigns since November, partnering with movie studios, like Evolution Media and Lionsgate, and movie theaters, like Goodrich Quality Theaters. The app is also partnering with retailers like Costco and companies like AAA to offer their customers MoviePasses along with their memberships.

“You can target someone who has just been sitting through 90 minutes of content,” said Steve Katelman, evp of global strategic partnerships at Omnicom Media Group. “Say if someone just saw ‘Star Wars,’ you can send them a techie-related branded message as soon as they leave the theater. It allows an advertiser to be relevant.”

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