A Day At The Movies

On a cold, wet and rainy Sunday afternoon, one of the best ways to pass the time can be to go to the movies, where you can be dazzled by some very interesting opportunities via in-cinema advertising (and yes, there are digital components to it, too, so keep reading).

The perception of in-cinema is of a static, inflexible, easily overlooked vehicle with minimal reach and a niche audience -- but I would argue that it represents a missed opportunity for a highly impactful, easily measured, supportive campaign that integrates digital in an obvious manner. The reality of in-cinema, and reality is not a mirage, is that movie-goers are a highly attentive, captive audience -- and almost all of them have a mobile platform easily accessible with which they will readily respond to the appropriate messaging.

The most recent film my wife and I saw piqued my renewed interest in in-cinema advertising because I witnessed the marriage of many avenues: brand integration, mobile, lead-gen and video. Big brand advertisers were creating short-form content that featured their brands. Other advertisers were asking you to text a special number for more info on upcoming films. Trivia was used to engage the audience and generate interest while acquiring mobile numbers. Video from the Web was brought into the theatre experience as a payoff from an online contest. The advertisers utilizing the space had elements of all of the above and one could argue the level of engagement in the theatre rivaled that of the best of other media.



If you examine the audience measurement statistics for in-cinema, a great story emerges and it's one that complements digital in a very obvious manner. A recent report stated that frequent moviegoers are 44% more likely to pay attention to in-cinema ads than ads on TV. 36% of in-cinema viewers felt they were more interested in the ads -- compared to 29.1% of broadcast viewers and 29.4% of cable viewers. These numbers support the idea that in-cinema provides an opportunity for high engagement with the audience.

Though the numbers don't immediately demonstrate the obvious tie-in to digital, the behaviors of the audience support it. Mobile is an obvious factor, judging by the number of times the ads remind you to "turn off your cell phone." I don't have specific data, but I think it's safe to assume that close to 100% of the audience in attendance has a mobile device of some type and most of these have access to data plans (especially on PG-13 and R-rated films). Based on these assumptions, mobile and even Web access through a mobile platform are obvious ways to drive a reaction. Furthermore, the opportunity to drive to the Web following the movie is high, filtering the audience to the Internet for "payout" of a message that was of interest to them before the film (some refer to this as recall).

The in-cinema audience represents a strong opportunity that can also be easily targeted by the context of the film. In the case of summer movies and larger blockbusters, there is also the opportunity for high reach into a more general audience. Coca-Cola seems to have recognized this and does lots of in-cinema advertising, as do the endemic category advertisers, such as Fandango. I even see a fair number of auto advertisers at the movies, but why not use it as a technology platform or a platform for distributing coupons to middle America, like Cellfire? For years we've seen game trailers online; when will we start to see them at the movies, where they belong? Dependent on the film you can reach a very early-adopter, influential audience or you can reach the mainstream Soccer Moms and Dads!

If you're looking for response rather than pure brand building, the response mechanism for in-cinema is easy, as you can utilize mobile with SMS efforts or even email via the increased proliferation of cell phones with email access. What about MMS, and encouraging the moviegoer to take a picture of the screen and send it in for a coupon or some other reward? Even QR Codes, which are beginning to gain some popularity, can be used in this environment.

The question that always comes up when evaluating cinema is reach, but as we continue to find new and interesting ways to fragment the audience, I'd have to imagine that a blockbuster film represents one of the few mass reach opportunities still available in traditional media. The big summer films will reach an aggregate audience larger than most TV shows -- and definitely more than some Web sites where we spend our money.

It may not be the obvious place to spend your dollars, and it may not be the obvious place to consider when you focus your attention on digital, but even the movies are going digital in the same way that TV is going digital -- so convergence creates the opportunity for integration, and you need to know about them all. As a strong, experienced media planner or buyer, you need to keep your options open and your expertise high, so go to the movies and see what you can do!

6 comments about "A Day At The Movies ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Lisbeth Kramer from Identities, March 4, 2009 at 10:29 a.m.

    Cory as a VERY passioned experienced highly, integrated marketing strategist and producer LOVE THIS! Key reason why I wanted to pitch for ScreenVision. But that aside, with a major iconic brand I won't mention they didn't get it ten years ago. Today that travel brand, everything you say is so much more relevant because of that in-action that can take place right after the show. And as you say it is like automatic targeting in a sense for the movie DNA itself is what is connecting to the particular audiences driven to engage in the story.
    This is one of several soapboxes I have that I am thrilled to receive some support on! Thank you and please keep us informed from OMMA!

  2. Marc Meyer from persefon ventures, March 4, 2009 at 10:44 a.m.

    Cory, you make an excellent point. In-movie placements (obviously not available to all) are probably one of the strongest drivers of real lifestyle-changing, brand establishing movements. Who doesn't feel a bit like James Bond in a BMW, and like you could use a MacBook to get the wiring diagram to a world class Art museum, cut the power lines and steal the Picasso? More insidiously, how we see people's lives from Woody Allen's Manhattanites to the Wedding Planner's San Franciscans affects the way we think we ought to live, and what we ought to surround ourselves with.

    Though clearly movie placement isn't for everyone, it does hint at better utilization of campaigns targeted to coordinate with the general themes/locales of movies. Or even taking advantage of the mini-movie-trailer format, like the wildly successful Stella micro-dramas playing now.

    Thanks again for a thought-provoking article.

  3. John Verdon from National Defence, March 4, 2009 at 11:03 a.m.


    While I appreciate your enthusiasm for movies and the statistics you site about 'engagement' with advertising at movie theatres, have you looked at declining attendance at movies?

    Although, this is purely anecdotal evidence, I have many friends and have talked to many people, who no longer go to movies and one of the key reasons (myself included) is the insult of realizing that I have paid significant money to now be assaulted with unwanted advertising. The same advertising that assaults me when I watch TV but there I have a remote and at least can turn the sound off. The same advertising that plays over and over again often in the same slot.

    I have to tell you that I'm a huge lover of movies in fact I've been an avid film lover for 50 years and have been know to go to 3 separate films in one day.

    Surely there are better ways to entice me and reward me for going to a movie - why not give me some gum, candy, coupon rather than use this moment of openess for immersion into a desire experience of cathartic release that movies so excellently provide, against me, to inculcate an unwanted desire into me, to appropriate my identity in this moment of openess to an unwanted product.

    As much as I love the movies, advertising is becoming a 'killer' application - that is advertising is killing this 50 year love of film.

    If this comment sounds like a rant, apologies, it is intented as a plea, don't kiill the host, don't kill the medium that advertising has been using to deliver eyes to commerce.

    Use creativity and give us something if you are going to intrude into our desire experience the film or the program.

    John Verdon

  4. Dean Collins from Cognation Inc, March 4, 2009 at 12:14 p.m.

    Dont forget that QR codes can be blown up to cinema screen size for imediate interaction.

    Whats a QR codes - check out
    for a 60 second overview if you have never heard of them before or for answers to questions you were too afraid to ask.


  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 4, 2009 at 12:19 p.m.

    Actually, movie attendance has increased, but you know it can stagnate at any time. A brand can also jump the shark if they become over active. Back to a balance thingy. And really, how much time do people really have to get that immersed into a swath of movie incorporations throughout the year? They will not all deliver the results that a couple will. Cory, you are on the top of your game and the folks with whom you associate are your peers. Just watch that 1st and 2nd steps. They are doozees. And DO NOT keep those devises on in the movies!@!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Lisbeth Kramer from Identities, March 4, 2009 at 4:44 p.m.

    Hey Cory, just me again. Just FYI. thought you would love 2 know if don't already. NEW VOLVO CAMPAIGN ,guess what, they integrated in-cinema piece into it. And based on the overall EXPERIENTIAL FACTOR of the entire branded effort for this new vehicle, just makes so much sense. Thought that would bring a smile 2 YR FACE.
    It did mine.

Next story loading loading..