Cineplex Timeplay: New and Improved

cineplex-timeplay-new-and-improvedIn a previous post, I wrote about how terrible the new Cineplex Timeplay experience was. I am writing about it again because they have dramatically improved the experience and it is now pretty awesome! Perhaps I was somewhat critical of the initial experience because it was the first attempt of its kind. Before we take a look at the improvements, however, a quick summary for the uninitiated:

Timeplay is an advertising experience comprised of smartphone apps that interact with “games” onscreen in the movie theatre. Users perform actions like flicking blobs onto the screen from their smartphone to reveal or create images in order to win prizes. It is a bit hard to explain, but the main idea is to get users to engage in advertisement-driven games to win prizes.

Click here to view a video overview of Timeplay

Better Rewards

The single biggest improvement has taken place in the reward received for participation. Previously, movie-goers were given prizes like “10% off a Canon Camera”. For advertisers, these rewards were great because they were directly applicable to their products, however, for users they were not very motivating. After all, everyday coupons and promotions typically match or top these discounts. The rewards also had no relation to the actual movie experience.

Thankfully, they have made some great changes to these rewards. Namely, scene points (reward points for free movies and concessions) are now given for certain Timeplay games. For frequent movie-goers this is a much more motivating reward. I collect these points religiously and get many free movies a year so I am now actively engaging with Timeplay where previously I had stopped caring. Hopefully they continue to tie-in movie specific rewards like these.

Better Games

Some of the games available for Timeplay are fun, while others are terribly mundane. Ford, for example, had a game that involved voting for what scene you wanted to see next in the commercial. Yes, it is just as boring as it sounds – you are simply voting on what part of a advertisement you want to see.

Timeplay now seems to be distancing themselves from these “games”, that really aren’t games at all. They seem to be focusing on games that involve throwing blobs from your smartphone onto the screen by flicking the screen. These games are actually surprisingly fun as you are awarded points individually.

Personalization

Somewhat annoyingly, Timeplay automatically assigns you a username that you cannot, at this point change. While this makes sense because many users may abuse customization by using inappropriate names, it is somewhat disappointing. What is neat, however, is that recent Timeplay ads have begun to incorporate these personal qualities into the games. For example, in a recent game I played, I was able to launch graffiti onto the screen and next to each piece of graffiti was my username. I was also awarded points individually that were used to rank players at the end of the game. Players were then rewarded with 100 scene points (1/10th of a free movie). Awesome!

Fewer Games (ads)

Timeplay had been added on top of all previous pre-movie advertisements. What that meant was that there was another 5 minutes or so of advertisements, extending the time before a movie (there are already too many pre-movie advertisements!).

A huge improvement has been reducing the number of Timeplay games (ads) to 1 before a movie. This is a much more reasonable intrusion – although I’m sure movie-goers that do not have smartphones are still probably angry at the extra advertising they cannot even participate in.

Overall, I like the idea of engaging advertisements as long as they meet the criteria I mentioned throughout this post: good rewards, fun games, and a reasonable amount of time/ads. Have you experienced Timeplay? Have you noticed any improvements?

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Cineplex Timeplay: Sneaky & Terrible Marketing/Advertising

advertising-marketing-timeplay-cineplexYou probably don’t go to the movies as often as I do. I make it out as much as 50 times a year – once a week. However, even if you don’t go often you have likely heard of Timeplay and perhaps you have already experienced it.

Timeplay, for the uninitiated, is a series of advertisements (not very cleverly) disguised as games that are played on smartphones before the movie starts. When I first heard about it I was very excited. The idea of playing an interactive game with other people in the theatre before a movie is a neat idea. Unfortunately, it turns out that the games are just advertisements with very little fun.

When Timeplay was originally announced Cineplex promised interactive quizzes, much like they already had as a pre-show, but with audience participation and with prizes. Unfortunately, those “prizes” turned out to be promotions from advertisements and the quizzes and other interesting concepts have yet to materialize.

The process to participate in Timeplay is also somewhat cumbersome. You have to first download an app (that is not available for iPhones at this time, pretty ridiculous, really) and then log into a special “Timeplay Wifi” connection in the theatre. You can then launch the app and choose the theatre that you are in to participate. You can then interact with the “games” on screen. One of the games is just a commercial for Ford in which you can influence the next scene in the ad. But the interactivity is severely limited. Instead of a neat “choose your own adventure”, you can simply decide to follow the “guy” or “girl” presented in the ad’s storyline. Nothing remarkable happens.

The other main ad/game is one in which you flick balls onto the screen from your phone to reveal a photo – an advertisement for a new Canon camera feature. Both games have limited interactivity and do little to remove the audience from the ad. The Ford ad has no prize associated with it, while the Canon game offers discounts depending on how the audience performs in the game.

Despite the lame “games” available now, the potential is there. The idea to earn prizes based on performance is great. After the Canon game, for example, you earn a prize – say 10% off – which you can then redeem later with a code that is kept within the app. With a game that is more fun and a smarter promotion, I could see a lot of use from these games.

Have you experienced Timeplay yet? What do you think of the concept/execution?

Update: Timeplay has improved dramatically and I now love it 🙂

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