Screenvision, Vistar offer movie theater programmatic ad buying for the first time
Cinema ad giant Screenvision and digital out-of-home firm Vistar Media are teaming up to offer a new programmatic media platform for the silver screen, allowing advertisers to buy on blockbuster pre-shows as American movie theaters cautiously reopen.
“For the first time, the big screen will be available on a programmatic platform,” says Screenvision Chief Revenue Officer Katy Loria, noting that cinemas could benefit from, but have never before implemented, programmatic ads.
The first-of-its-kind platform will give advertisers the ability to seamlessly sort where ads run, by theater location, day of the week and MPAA rating. For brands, it’ll be no different than buying social, except for the added bonus of access to an “undistracted audience,” Loria says.
Screenvision partners with a range of theater chains across the country including National Amusements, Harkins and AMC, as well as a hundreds of independently owned drive-in venues. Upon debut, its new Vistar-supported programmatic option will be available for 2,400 screens—about 20 percent of its total network—with more being added next year.
The platform’s launch, coinciding with the release of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller “Tenet” this week, will include a limited-time promotional trial for advertisers to test the service at just $1 CPM, or per thousand views. That rate is good for up to a 30-second preshow video ad, with or without audio.
“As we’re launching this, we wanted to make it easy for people to try it out,” says Jeremy Morgante, Screenvision’s SVP of data and analytics. Dubbed Second Act Giveback, all profits Screenvision makes during the initial promotion, which runs through Sep. 10, will be donated directly back to theaters “to help give them a jump start on reopening,” the company said.
The $1 CPM trial is an “easy on-ramp” for marketers who’d like to test out the platform, Morgante adds. The Screenvision inventory will be available through Vistar’s demand-side platform and other DSPs that integrate them.
The partnership took “a lot of years of convincing,” says Vistar Media CEO Michael Provenzano, who adds that he first reached out to Screenvision about introducing movie-focused programmatic in May 2015. “Cinema was like, ‘Man, we know it’s a big part of out-of-home, and we know our buyers buy it. We kept trying to prove ourselves.” And eventually, the collaboration came together.
“Cinema is such a powerhouse in out-of-home spend, and we are really fortunate to be [Screenvision’s] partner. I think we’re gonna see a massive surge,” in cinema-directed ad dollars, he adds.
Luckily for cinema advertisers and filmmakers alike, moviegoer confidence in the U.S. appears to be on the rise as more states green-light movie theaters to reopen.
According to an August survey of 16,000 people conducted by digital ticket-buying service Atom Tickets, 74 percent of respondents said they’d be ready to return to theaters within one month, while 40 percent said they would be willing to go immediately upon reopening. Those figures are up from 59 and 25 percent, respectively, in May 2020.