Digital Cinema Ad Company Expands in Northeast

Screenvision, a major purveyor of pre-show cinema advertising, is bolstering its reach through a new deal with National Amusements, a theater chain that operates 1,100 screens, including many in New York and Boston. The centerpiece of the deal is the installation of Screenvision's digital projection and ad management system in all 1,100 theaters, which will allow advertisers greater variety and flexibility in cinema ad programs.

The digital system will allow last-minute changes and performance verification for ad placements in Screenvision's 20-minute "pre-show" program, according to Matthew Kearney, CEO of Screenvision. Digital delivery also allows customizable campaigns, targeting particular ads to particular theaters to reach specific demographic or regional audiences. The new system is also coordinated with the rollout of digital projection of feature films by Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC.

Kearney said the company's first ad offerings will be Halloween-themed, with two packages: a scarier, slightly risqué version for older crowds, and a "G and PG version, aimed at children, with a host who plays the mad scientist role from horror movies we're all familiar with." The children's ad package includes three cartoons with Halloween story lines that have been "custom-designed by our content partners," in a production-intensive arrangement that's typical of Screenvision offerings, according to Kearney.



Like its competitors, Screenvision's "pre-show" package combines short features and ads in "an entertaining format, which means the movie-goer is more engaged, and more likely to pay attention to the ad messages," said Kearney. Bob Martin, president of the Cinema Ad Council, said this more sophisticated approach to cinema advertising has attracted major brands like American Express, the Army National Guard, Hyundai, Nike, Toyota, Unilever, Verizon, Wal-Mart, and X-Box.

Cliff Marks, president of National CineMedia, a Screenvision competitor, added that "retail has also been a big one, with companies like Radio Shack and Wal-Mart really getting serious now. We're also seeing wireless companies like Verizon and Cingular using us more and more."

Overall, cinema advertising is one of the fastest-growing media in percent terms. The medium grew explosively in 2005, with revenue surging 20.6 percent to almost $528 million from about $438 million in 2004, according to a June report from the Cinema Advertising Council.

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