MBPT Spotlight: Big Screen Qualities Allow Brands to Harness a Valuable Audience

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With the TV upfronts wrapping, buyers and planners looking to score some summer wins before heading to vacation are looking at cinema scatter opportunities for the 3Q, while looking forward to one of the most anticipated fall and winter movie line-ups ever.

From niche to blockbuster fare, the 2015-2016 season includes the final Hunger Games and newest Mission: Impossible and Star Wars to name just a few, as with clients looking to take meetings before the typical August wrap of the cinema upfront.

But why cinema?

The lights are low, the volume is up. The eyes of an engaged audience are glued to the screen. And, the best part if you’re a brand marketer or their media buying and planning agency? The audience can’t change the channel or scroll to another page.

Moviegoers are young, elusive, socially active, tech savvy, influential with tremendous buying power and show up every week at theaters. Box office and attendance continues to sizzle and remain fragmentation proof while TV audiences continue to fizzle, and online video suffers from viewability issues.

The record summer box office provides a huge opportunity for agencies to position their brands for a big win. Brands can also close out summer on a high note with critical back-to-school season campaigns screening at the cinema.

Move to a TV-Like Model

Cinema now speaks fluent TV! In order to appeal to even more media buyers and planners, the sellers of cinema advertising have embraced a strategy that moves the category more in line with that of the broadcast buying world.

Some cinema networks, due in part to state-of-the-art digital delivery systems can now offer demo guarantees (vs P2+), flexible fighting, short 3-5 day creative lead times, Nielsen posting methodology, seasonal pricing, day-parting, cancellation options and upfront media commitments. As well, some cinema networks that specifically target particular audiences (i.e., affluent) along with those with wide, national reach, are utilizing big data to help brands make sure they are connecting with the right audiences.

Sound familiar?

Cinema is willing and able to compete with digital video found on platforms ranging from TV to Internet and Mobile. Note that while the overall media marketplace has experienced unprecedented fragmentation, the box office has averaged more than $10 billion and 1.35 billion attendees over the past five years. Based on the unique attributes of cinema’s audience composition and delivery and its ongoing ability to attract millennials, cinema has clearly become a premium offering.

In fact, brands looking to target millennials – and of course most are – have found that for this audience, going to the movies is non-negotiable. A GfK MRI Doublebase report showed that for millennials cinema is their premiere source of entertainment, so they simply won’t give it up. Nearly 35% of moviegoers in 2013 were in the 18-34 demographic.

Premiere Opportunities

If indeed size matters, cinema wins. And perhaps more importantly in the new world of time- and place-shifted viewing, cinema remains one of the last bastions of linear programming. In-home, flat screen TV technology continues to march forward. But ours are really big, and theatres are constantly upgrading the movie-going experience. Besides, when was the last time you sat home watching a 40-70-foot screen with surround sound (let alone in 3- or 4-D)?

Must see TV? The world’s greatest content premieres every weekend in a theatre near you, with “big event” programming multiple times per year (on top of the traditional tent poles around the holidays and awards season). Assuming live viewing is important to your brand messaging – then why debate C3, C7 or C30? Cinema is C-now.

Fall premiere tune-in? Just as the movies once relied on Thursday night must-see TV to promote opening weekends, more and more television networks during the last decade have turned to the cinema audience to drive tune-in for their fall premieres.

Cinema is also offering additional opportunities to advertisers beyond the screen. This includes forging new relationships with tech companies like Shazam and SoundHound and launching apps that integrate mobile into the overall experience, to expanding branded content initiatives, particularly in the pre-shows that run before the movies.

As we contemplate the future of cinema, we see that in and of itself, cinema is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Now consider cinema as a broadcast enhancement, and the potential to extend a brand’s message is even more attractive than ever.

While some platforms have struggled during the upfronts, with broadcast and cable down over last year, and digital video still coming into its own – cinema networks have seen double- to triple-digit increases in upfront commitments. In fact, cinema is being included in more upfront conversations, which are now happening earlier than in years past.

Unlike some platforms, cinema isn’t charging more for less. In fact, “ratings” are up, with the box office on pace to be the biggest in history and thanks to a gargantuan performance by Jurassic World, and strong showings from Inside Out and Minions, outpacing the record-setting 2013.

Cinema’s reach is strong, its audience is consistent, and savvy brands and agencies are taking advantage of the unique medium to target people in the most desirable of demographics. It doesn’t get more premium than that.

Loria is based in New York City. The CAC serves cinema advertising sellers, the theatrical exhibition community and the advertising community, acting as the central source of information for the industry.

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