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Interviews/ Emerging Media

The CMO.com Interview: Fandango Marketing Chief Adam Rockmore

by Giselle Abramovich
Senior & Strategic Editor
CMO.com

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Article Highlights:

  • "Utility always does well on mobile."
  • "All CMOs should be focused on reaching the customer in their daily lives; on TV, desktop, social media, mobile--wherever they are."
  • "You need to test a lot, but make sure the number of tests don't dilute the impact of the overall marketing effort."

Mobile is Fandango’s golden goose. With 44 percent of the company’s ticket sales coming through mobile, Fandango’s VP of Marketing Adam Rockmore says the company places a big emphasis on the medium as a platform for selling tickets--and also as a marketing channel.

In this exclusive interview with CMO.com, Rockmore discusses Fandango’s mobile success, as well as its challenges in that arena. Rockmore also talks about other channels, like social media, that are helping Fandango create relationships with consumers. He says that over the next 12 to 18 months, Fandango will be focusing on platforms like Vine and Instagram Video. Read on to learn why.

CMO.com: Why is mobile so important to Fandango?
Rockmore: Part of succeeding as a brand means knowing who your customer is. We want to be ubiquitous, and mobile is a big part of that. We have tons of data that’s telling us that our consumers are using mobile. Last year, 28 percent of our ticket sales came from mobile. For this year, 44 percent of our ticket sales are coming from mobile. For some movies, we are getting 65 percent of ticket sales through mobile. We have a Millennial audience that’s often mobile first, and we’re orienting business accordingly.

I think part of the success for us on mobile is due to the fact that our business has been known as a basic utility; we connect people to the movies near them. And utility always does well on mobile. We’re expanding Fandango so that it’s more of a destination and not just perceived as a utility--and, obviously, since so much of our audience is mobile, we are also focusing a lot of our marketing on the mobile platform as well.

CMO.com: So Fandango is in a unique place with regard to mobile. Why should mobile be important to all CMOs?
Rockmore:
For us it is important. It is how consumers use our product. So that’s why everything we do for SEO, paid search, how we do contests, and any social programs, they all keep the mobile user in mind. It’s not about the medium; it’s about the customer and reaching them wherever they are. All CMOs should be focused on reaching the customer in their daily lives; on TV, desktop, social media, mobile--wherever they are.  

CMO.com: What are Fandango’s biggest challenges with mobile?
Rockmore: In many cases, the screen is really small. That’s a serious challenge because it means less real estate. But mobile’s opportunities outweigh the challenges--for example, opportunities like location-based services and geofencing. We’re on Chapter One, and there’s more to write on mobile marketing.

CMO.com: What’s going to cause mobile’s next “tipping point?”
Rockmore: Technology like location-based targeting and geofencing are big opportunities. It exists today, but I don’t think many are really taking advantage of it.  I know for us, movie-going can be paired with shopping or going to a restaurant, so there’s a lot of local opportunities for Fandango. There are opportunities for Fandango to partner with others to create the perfect out-of-home experience. And I think we’ll get to a point where we are taking advantage of that more. So to me, mobile’s next tipping point will happen when there’s better utilization of existing opportunities.

CMO.com: What other digital tactics is Fandango prioritizing for the next 12 to 18 months?
Rockmore:
We’ll definitely do more in social media. Platforms like Vine and Instagram Video are going to be big for us. And it’s not just about digital. There are a lot of things we want to do offline as well. I want to take Fandango on the road and be closer to local efforts. Digital is just one leg of the stool for us.

CMO.com: There’s a difference between being a social brand and just doing social. Which is Fandango?
Rockmore:
I’ll start with the fact that going to the movies is inherently social. You get together with friends, go to dinner, see a movie, and then talk about the movie to others after the fact. So we have to be social to make sure that we’re enabling them every step of the way. We are at a nexus in movie-going. Additionally, we’re a small company when it comes to our core group of employees. We’re actually lucky because that allows us to have a more collaborative, social company culture.

CMO.com: What do you think is the No. 1 thing that keeps CMOs up at night?
Rockmore:
Efficiency. It’s the ROI argument. Everyone has a different interpretation of what an ROI means. There are so many aspects to the marketing strategy that it becomes difficult to know how each and every one impacts the ROI and how they all measure up against one another. There’s no way of knowing how outdoor and TV ads have affected the ROI.

Another concern for CMOs is that there’s so many new tactics, platforms, and technologies arising. If you don’t try, will you be too late when you do? Or if you do try and fail, what effect will that have on the brand?  You need to test a lot, but make sure the number of tests don't dilute the impact of the overall marketing effort. It’s a challenging business these days, but exciting at the same time.

CMO.com: If you had all the world’s biggest brand CMOs in one room, what are three things you’d ask advice on?
Rockmore:
I’d rather have my choice of three CMOs in a room, whose campaigns or tactics I like, and I would want them to walk me through the "why's" and the "how's" of their initiatives. That would provide me with the best learning. 

CMO.com: What’s your advice to other CMOs, from a digital marketing perspective?   
Rockmore:
Start with the data and orient yourself with the objective. The data doesn’t tell you everything, but it tells you a lot. Then once you figure out who your consumer is and how they behave, build a program around that. We just finished a pretty extensive lifestyle segmentation around our consumers, and that’s helping us figure out how we want to build and create the best content for moviegoers on every platform.   

About Giselle Abramovich

Giselle Abramovich is senior & strategic editor at CMO.com. Previously she wrote for outlets including Direct Marketing News, Mobile Marketer, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Daily, and Digiday. Reach her at abramovi@adobe.com, or follow her on Twitter @GAbramovich.

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