Olle Agebro • Exhibitor, Fyrisbiografen
"We can always improve every aspect of the cinema-going experience"
by Jean-Baptiste Selliez - Europa Cinemas
- Europa Cinemas interviewed Olle Agebro from Fyrisbiografen, a two-screen cinema in Uppsala, Sweden, which was the first winner of the Europa Cinemas Innovation Prize
Fyrisbiografen, a two-screen cinema member of Europa Cinemas in Uppsala, Sweden, is the first winner of the Europa Cinemas Innovation Prize, set up in 2018 with the support of Creative Europe. Europa Cinemas interviewed Olle Agebro, who runs the cinema and looks back at this project on improving the cinema experience through smart data analysis.
Can you quickly present the cinema and its place in the city of Uppsala?
Olle Agebro: Fyrisbiografen is the oldest operating cinema in the city of Uppsala and the only cinema that screens arthouse films. The cinema is also an important venue for film festivals as well as special events and Q&A screenings with film directors. Uppsala is a city of 150,000 inhabitants, much characterized by Uppsala university and a significant amount of Fyrisbiografen’s audience are students. Fyrisbiografen is operated by a non-profit organization and our volunteers manages most of our screenings.
I started as a volunteer at Fyrisbiografen in 2012 and was appointed chairman of the board three years ago. We have a flat organization and volunteers as well as employees or board members can engage in such tasks as moderating Q&A’s, screening films or hosting our podcast.
What led you to the complete overhaul of your work methods?
A few years after our organization acquired Fyrisbiografen we noticed that our initial increase in audience numbers started stagnating. We started looking at our data and applied for funding from the Swedish Film Institute in order to carry through a project aiming to, among other things, increase our audience. During this project we had a chance to dig deep into our audience data, interviewing visitors and potential visitors and map how we could improve the cinema-going experience for our audience.
What were the partners involved and their role?
The Swedish Film Institute provided funding that allowed us to work with the consulting agency Cybercom. Cybercom helped us with data research, audience interviews, workshops, ideation and strategy.
Data gathered from your spectators seems to be at the core of your action. Could you please explain how is this data used to adapt your current activities?
The average citizen in Uppsala – and in Sweden overall – goes to the cinema 1,7 times per year while watching close to 100 films on TV, VOD and other platforms. Yet many of our most frequent audience members visit Fyrisbiografen several times every month. A key question was why many of our audience members only bought one ticket per year, and our interviews suggested that cinema-goers simply found it convenient to stay at home watching Netflix instead. At first this finding was a bit depressing, but when thinking about it, it meant that our audience didn’t have any strong reasons for not going to the cinema – if we could improve the cinema-going experience and removing thresholds that made going to the cinema less convenient than watching Netflix we should be able to increase our audience. Different kinds of data were used in different ways. Our web analytics data guided us when improving our online ticket booking system; suggestions from our audience members during interviews guided our programming; ticket sales data shaped our digital marketing.
You speak of iterative actions. What do you mean by that?
The iterative approach is really about realising that we can always improve every aspect of the cinema-going experience. By trying to collect data on everything, we learn a lot about the current state of our cinema, but also about how we are improving when we make changes – or if something we thought was an improvement actually turned out to worsen the audience experience. For instance, when designing digital ads we always try out different variations, different images, videos and ad copy to learn which ad sells the most tickets, next week we make new variations based on our recent findings. Success metrics are very distinct when working with digital tools, but I’m confident that we can also apply this mindset to non-digital actions as well.
How did you involve your team in your new ways of working?
Fyrisbiografen is operated by our volunteers and we wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything of our recent success without their love for film and their dedication. Our volunteers where involved in workshops and the ideation process during the project, they meet the audience every day and have a great understanding of the needs of our audiences. I receive great ideas and suggestions on how we can improve our cinema every week.
Read the complete interview here.
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