Cliff Marks wears two hats in the movie ad business as CAC's chairman as well as president-chief managing officer of National CineMedia, which owns AMC, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas. This past year he has seen growth in ad spending from categories such as telecommunications, broadcast and cable networks, video-game hardware and software, and consumer electronics.
"Digital technology has allowed marketers to target specific movies and markets to use this medium much more strategically than years ago when they'd put an ad up on the screen," Mr. Marks said.
Out-of-home advertising as a market has experienced flat to single-digit growth in recent years as spending shifts from traditional billboards to more-accountable digital platforms.
Yet as marketers start racing to be innovators in the out-of-home market, which reached $6.8 billion in ad spending in 2006, the majority of their dollars are being spent in burgeoning areas such as in-store networks and unmeasured media, such as digital billboards. Movie theaters have managed to lure marketers by selling the big screen as an alternative to cable networks or multiple-market billboard buys.
And with in-cinema pre-shows often running 20 minutes of content and ads, there's more inventory for movie marketers to buy. The pre-shows started out as a place for marketers to get extra mileage out of their 30-second TV spots. Now major marketers such as Coca-Cola Co., Procter & Gamble and Geico are creating custom, short-form content often 60 seconds or 90 seconds in length. Movie theaters are the only place to catch new Geico ads starring the popular cavemen now that the ABC sitcom is on the air.
Stu Ballatt, senior VP-marketing and research for Screenvision, said the long-form approach to marketing is helping drive growth of movie advertising. "It's a continuing trend for people to place new creative into the cinema that isn't necessarily used elsewhere or maybe is launched in cinema and then moved into other media," he said.
Categories spending more on cinema so far this year, Mr. Marks added, have been family restaurants such as Chili's and Applebee's as well as retail and package-goods personal-care products.
Although movie theaters are categorized as out-of-home media, Mr. Ballatt said cinema buying has become more similar to TV buying now that digital formats have streamlined the distribution process.
Forecasts in 2000 had the movie market caving with the advent of pay per view and DVDs, but "clearly that hasn't happened," Mr. Marks said. "It's still a very important cultural part of the American weekend."