Untapped Potential: Explore the possibilities of cinema advertising

Cinemas Features

Cinema advertising isn’t living up to its potential.

Only cinema enables brands to share the big screen with Hollywood stars, in pristine quality and with incredible sound, in front of an audience who aren’t skipping past the ads.

But cinema advertising accounts for only 0.5% of global ad spend. This is partly a perception problem. Brands see cinema advertising as lacking transparency of results, with little opportunity for targeting and personalization, and played during a pre-show that’s maybe not engaging enough to get audiences in their seats to watch it.

Today, however, new technology is bringing a host of opportunities to exhibitors and to advertisers—opportunities for better engagement, a customer relationship that stretches beyond just the pre-show and more insight into who audiences are.

So how can exhibitors and advertisers translate these opportunities into a bigger slice of the ad spend pie?

Know Your Customer

Generally, customers arriving in the cinema are completely anonymous—exhibitors don’t know who they are or anything about them. And after the movie, well, that’s it. The audience walks out and cinemas still have no idea who they are. Without knowing the customer, it’s impossible to segment audiences, create relevant messaging, or learn anything about how campaigns perform across audience demographics.

But technology is making it easier for exhibitors and advertisers to fill these information gaps:

* An appealing process for booking tickets online or through a mobile app (perhaps integrated with a cinema’s loyalty scheme) gives data insights as soon as a consumer chooses cinema for their night out.

* When customers arrive at the cinema, Wi-Fi and beacon technology can recognize them as soon as they walk in the door, keep track of their preferences and help make each visit personalized and special.

* And with detailed customer profiles, exhibitors can not only offer better-targeted audiences to brands, but can also personalize the cinema’s own communications, creating an ongoing relationship, not one that ends after two hours in the auditorium.

Be Relevant

Making advertising relevant to the audience is key to making cinema a more attractive proposition for brands. Knowing your customer, along with digital flexibility and sophisticated advertising software, means that cinema advertising (which in the 35mm world meant the same ads played in front of every show) can now be precisely targeted, making messaging more impactful.

While the pre-show on the big screen remains the main attraction, technology is providing other opportunities to know your audience and get the right brand messages in front of them.

Lobby screens can be programmed to automatically display audience-appropriate content. For instance, screens can automatically show trailers and posters for upcoming cartoons on a Saturday morning, a new wine promotion on a Tuesday evening, and an interactive social-media wall for the Friday-night crowd.

Be Engaging

The final step: Make advertising engaging.

Today’s audiences want an engaging, fun experience that they can relate to. Making the pre-show more of an event, and giving audiences a reason to be there, is a great way to fill seats earlier. Interactivity, personalized content and second-screen promotions all drive audiences to the pre-show and provide more data back to the advertiser. And for exhibitors this offers new, premium branding opportunities.

Technology enables brands to create engaging experiences from the lobby through to the big screen. Whether it’s encouraging social-media interaction around a branded hashtag or second-screen advertising that sends promotions straight to a customer’s phone, advertising no longer has to be one-way.

For brands, sending information directly to customers’ phones provides a deeper relationship than traditional one-way advertising. Money-off vouchers, directions to the nearest store or calendar reminders for brand events all provide a connection in the customer’s pocket long past the end credits.

Exhibitors too can benefit—trailers on the big screen can trigger calendar reminders for release dates, and concession promotions can offer revenue uplift and more data on who redeems which offers.

The Result

With more customer knowledge, brands can serve more relevant, targeted advertising to the most receptive audiences. And with more insight, visibility over campaign performance becomes better and more useful.

As opportunities for advertising in cinemas expand beyond just the pre-show, brands have more touch-points to engage customers throughout the cinema journey, all building up to the key moment on the big screen before the movie.

And when advertising content is innovative and engaging, it gives customers a better experience, translates favorably to the advertising brand and is more likely to generate repeat business for the cinema.

All of which adds up to huge potential for cinema advertising right now. As new technology offers opportunities to overcome old pain points—increasing transparency, personalization and engagement—cinemas looking to grow their share of the ad-spend pie should take note.