Ever feel guilty choosing Netflix-plus-couch over the theater? You probably need to hit a show by Fathom Events. Whether you want to watch the World Welterweight Championship (Pacquiao vs. Broner) or an 80th-anniversary showing of The Wizard of Oz (or, hey, both) — Fathom’s lineup of event cinema will get you out of the house to experience the thrill of spectatorship.
Begun in 2002 as a joint venture of the three largest movie theater circuits in the United States—AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, and Regal Entertainment Group—Fathom Events is the leader in the event cinema market, and they’re not slowing down. Brenton Henry, Director of Digital Strategy & Analytics, tells ToneDen, “Audience growth is a huge goal for us.” Though Fathom has partnered with 975 theaters (and counting), “We know we have growth opportunities in different markets around the country.”
Capitalizing on those opportunities means running ad campaigns that are smart from the get-go — and getting smarter as they run. Audience targeting, and retargeting, is key, and that’s why Fathom Events trusts ToneDen.
“From a day-to-day perspective,” Henry tells us, “ToneDen addresses our Senior Digital Marketing Manager’s needs right out of the box.”
Supporting Growth With ToneDen
A veteran in the events industry, Henry worked with megastars like SXSW and Lollapalooza before joining Fathom Events four years ago. Since then, he’s helped the company soar: “In the year that I joined, we were set to break the event record by hosting 83 events … four years later, we’re just a hair above 160 events this year. It’s been really explosive.”
As Fathom Events grew, Henry knew they needed a hand for managing their numerous campaigns, most of which run for 4–6 weeks at a time. “We actually brought it up with one of our Facebook representatives. He suggested ToneDen as a good fit for the event space.”
Now, a year into working with ToneDen, Henry’s a fan of everything from the U/X to the U/I, “the dashboards and the insides.” But, he admits, “where ToneDen really shined for us was in the retargeting campaigns.”
One of the most successful instances of retargeting came when Fathom Events showed Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. With three nights of screenings happening at some 900 theaters, Henry saw serious buzz build. The Bowie film inspires Rocky Horror-esque enthusiasm, and Fathom made sure to invite fans to come in costume.
“Since the event was getting so much coverage,” he tells ToneDen, “we had this huge pull to retarget, much bigger from our average event, and we were able to build that out into ToneDen, and let ToneDen figure it out.” Running multiple unique creatives, Henry and his team masterminded their audiences, segmenting out groups like visitors to the Labyrinth 2018 page; Frank Oz fans; Labyrinth/Dark Crystal purchasers, followers, and engagers; as well as the ever-important lookalikes.
The results were incredible. Spending just $4,500 netted Fathom Events more than $50k — a $11 return on the dollar — in a mere 27 days. “Sometimes, doing 4–5% shifts in our budget, we ultimately ended up getting a 13x return,” Henry says. “It was just fantastic.”
Taking the Risk Out of Timelines and Targeting
Even if they require hundreds of minds to organize and thousands of fans to experience, events are delicate operations. As Henry puts it, “If they have an artist flying into one city, they’re gonna do one show, and then they’re off to the next. Making sure your consumers or fans are aware that an artist is coming … and that the messaging is working is so crucial when working on such a short timeline.”
This is where ToneDen’s automation is essential:
“For people in the event space, it opens up so much more opportunity to test a much wider range and find new audiences without feeling like you’re going to be risking a huge portion of your budget to try and do that testing on a city-to-city basis.”
And budget counts, even when you’re filling megaplexes like Fathom Events. You shouldn’t have to get lost in a maze of audience reallocation (forgive the Labyrinth pun). This is why Henry thinks ToneDen is so imperative. “It helps take a lot of the guesswork out of how your money’s being and should be spent. Any financial advisor or financial officer would really appreciate the transparency to that advertising process.”