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Why brands should leverage cinemas’ 3.5 million mobile touch points

Brands seeking to target consumers on second-screen devices have access to a virtually untapped market of movie theaters’ 3.5 million mobile touch points for engagement which can provide massive commerce potential, suggesting that marketers should leverage more geofencing tactics to target mobile users inside and outside of cinemas.

Advertising and film distribution company Screenvision recently undertook a five-day survey of its 2,200 theaters, discovering that while many consumers visit cinemas for an escape from traditional media, their movie-going experiences are actually a catalyst for driving commerce through targeted ads. Fifty-five percent of consumers prefer to dine out before or after a film viewing, while 22 percent enjoy shopping before or after a cinema outing, proving that consumer spend is synonymous with movie nights.

“The movie screen is an amazing place to generate unrivaled impact,” said John McCauley, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Strategic Alliances of Screenvision, New York. “Now, with out-of-theater deployment, we have a strategic and thoughtful way to follow up and amplify the brand messages that have already been seen within the movie theater walls.

“Early adopters will probably be brands that are already in cinema, and are familiar with and use mobile. For theater ad buying, 0 percent of ads are skipped, so we can guarantee that 100 percent of the ads are viewed.”

Optimal targeting
Brands or chains located around movie theaters have an optimal opportunity to target consumers who may not be familiar with their products or services by leveraging geofencing tactics on mobile. A prime example of the technology could be a major restaurant chain targeting a couple leaving a cinema.

By tapping geofencing to pull select data, the chain could send the couple a mobile coupon to use at the nearest restaurant, as well as directions on how to get there. These types of opportunities are innumerable, particularly as consumers generally prefer to combine their movie nights with other activities such as dining out, shopping and going out for cocktails.

“Whereas TV is witnessing substantial negative disruption to its business model (cord cutting, over the top viewing, VOD, time-shifted viewing), mobile is actually enhancing cinema’s,” said Evan Turner, senior director of national channel sales at SITO Mobile, Jersey City, NJ. “By going to the movies, moviegoers have actively made the choice to consume content during their 2+ hours at the theater.

“The same audiences that channel surf, cut the cord and open their smartphone during cable and broadcast TV commercials openly embrace cinema’s premium video content. And with smartphone-toting moviegoers across the nation consuming increasingly more video on their devices, the initial excitement and intrigue created by the on-screen ad can be reactivated by retargeting these audiences as they leave the theater.”

Targeting the most spend
Adults ages 21 and over are three times more likely to visit the cinema over a bar or nightclub once a month or more. Consumers in this age range tend to have the most spending power, a notion which is certainly attractive to brands seeking optimal return on investment for their mobile advertisements.

Setting up geofencing perimeters around movie theaters could provide certain marketers, especially those in the retail or food and beverage sectors, with increased consumer outreach opportunities.

“Basic geofencing, the delivery of an ad to a moviegoer because they were at a theater, has been the extent of the strategies for most ad tech players,” Mr. Turner said. “That’s been somewhat acceptable because more sophisticated strategies weren’t demanded; however, over the past couple quarters, the market has moved and agencies have explicitly asked us for better behavioral targeting and audience guarantees, moving beyond simple demo targets.

“We’re now able to identify theaters whose audience over-index for a particular category purchase, link it to past location behaviors and then measure the in-store and transactional impact after seeing an ad on the big screen and retargeted mobile ad. Project Lynx has created an entirely new way to target viewers of digital video and we believe it will be a welcome advancement for our TV, video, cinema and mobile media buyers.”

Sixty-two percent of American adults go to a movie theater every year, which contributed to April 2015 becoming the highest grossing April of all time. Although streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix are gaining traction with customers and mobile users, a considerable portion of the population still prefers seeing content on the big screen, leaving massive potential for boosting commerce.

“Cinema has a highly coveted audience who is exposed to brand messaging in the most immersive and captivating environment in media,” Screenvision’s Mr. McCauley said. “We are excited by the prospect of augmenting the impact that the big screen has with the ability to connect again with our audience outside the theater.

“We certainly hope that brands see this as an additive element to the impact they are already receiving on screen.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York