How to add movie times so they appear in Google/Flixster search results?
March 17, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

We are a nonprofit film society located in Charleston, SC and are looking to have our movie times displayed in search results. In Google, for example, a search for movies by zip code results in this. How can we be included? My sense is that each movie listing company may require a separate arrangement so, in order of preference, we are looking to be included in: 1. Google 2. Flixster 3. Fandango 4. Yahoo Thanks for your help!
posted by wensink to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience (working with a similar group) it's not worth it to try being listed by those sorts of sources deliberately. Their listings are assembled automatically (unless there's a secret human side to them that I don't know about!)

But, you could try a few things to make it more likely that your screenings will get picked up. Make sure your website has an RSS feed for screenings and events. Make sure you're submitting your screenings to local event listings (local alt-weekly and that kind of thing), since the bots are more likely to be looking at established local listing sources for this kind of information. Make sure your venue is on the radar of event listing sources in general. It might help to use something like Brown Paper Tickets or Eventbrite to list your screenings (and sell tickets) because these are other sources the bots are likely to check.

Also, think about your audience and your programming. It may be that focusing your energy on trying to attract people who just go flip through the generic internet movie listings looking for a flick isn't going to bring in the kind of audience that you want to reach. Depending on the kind of programming you're doing, it might make more sense to reach out in a more focused way to communities who will be more specifically interested in what you're showing.
posted by bubukaba at 11:55 AM on March 17, 2014

I think you need to be including the right metadata to get your listings picked up by search engines. Take a look at the events microdata format.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:03 PM on March 17, 2014

Mefite bjork24 used to run a movie theater. Maybe he knows!
posted by zsazsa at 12:13 PM on March 17, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks very much.

Oh, bjork?

After speaking with folks at Flixster, it seems that most movie listing sites use a third-party called West World Media. (Including Google. Or so WWM claims.) If at all possible, we're trying to avoid the pay for placement services they provide.
posted by wensink at 12:25 PM on March 17, 2014

Take a look at googles webmaster tools. There is a section on there for how to display results from your page which I would assume could be customized to display the latest listings.
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:35 PM on March 17, 2014

If you do decide to go the paid placement route, the Art House Convergence email list is a good research resource. (Looking over their archives quickly, it sounds like for at least some theaters, submission to the aggregation services is part of their ticketing service package, so that's something to consider).

But just to make my earlier comment clearer: you really probably don't need to worry about doing anything to make your screenings appear aside from things you can do yourself, for free, that you should be doing anyway. My group's screenings get picked up by IMDb (whose listings are provided by West World) and Fandango, and we don't do anything at all aside from having a bot-legible website (which could honestly could use some improvements in that respect) and making sure that local papers have our stuff in their listings. We don't send anything to West World or Fandango directly (nor do we even use a ticketing service) but we still get picked up.

Besides, as any cinema house manager can tell you, all the services will end up getting your showtimes wrong half the time anyway! *grumble*
posted by bubukaba at 5:28 PM on March 17, 2014

Okay, I got obsessed enough with this question that I went and asked a friend who works as a house manager at a "real" theater (every night of the week, runs, new art house releases, etc. unlike the every week or every-other-week shows my group does).

She says that all her theater does (aside from the usual local listings stuff mentioned above) is email Tribune Media Services each month's schedule, which seems to get it onto all the various sites - but she says the results are spotty. They tend to mix up movies that have the same name and get showtimes wrong and assign MPAA ratings to films that aren't even rated and that kind of thing. So that's another data point.
posted by bubukaba at 7:03 PM on March 18, 2014

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