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Cinema advertising begins to take centre stage

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MUMBAI: No movie today is played in the cinema without some ads being slotted before it starts and in the interval. This means more brands get a chance to showcase their products and services as advertisers see movie theatres as a great venue because they have an immediate captive audience that is ready to view their message.

Today, more brands are using in-cinema advertising in order to reach their targeted audience, which is usually undistracted by their smartphones and social media in the theatre.

Around six years ago, China had approximately 9000 cinema screens but today they have 40,000 screens. Similarly, in India, major cinema chains like INOX, Miraj, PVR, Carnival, Cinepolis are growing their presence rapidly and are looking at setting up at least 1000 cinema screens in the fiscal year 2018-19. Today, high-end luxurious residential properties have also started putting up their own cinema theatre as a part of their complex offering.

According to the latest report by GroupM’s cinema advertising arm Interactive TV, there is a clear upward trend of urban Indians who prefer to watch a movie in theatres. The study found out that 57 per cent of the audience prefers to watch a movie in the theatre at least once in six months. The report also highlights the fact that 71 per cent of these audiences are between the age group of 15 to 24. This means gala time for most brands.

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An increase in footfall resulted in a 20 per cent growth in cinema advertising in 2017 and the GroupM report suggests that 50 per cent of the movie goers were willing to consume advertisements before the start of the movie and during the interval. Furthermore, consumers usually tend to reach the movie hall 15 minutes prior to the showtime and that allows brands enough time with branding opportunities. Carnival Cinemas CMO Dina Mukherjee says, “Earlier the interval time was 10 mins which was a short popcorn break but now it is at an average of 30-35 (before the movie + interval time). Although it is an irritating factor for the viewer, the number of advertisers have increased and most of them have a 30 second spot.”

FMCG, consumer durables, financial sector have been the major investors for longest time in cinema advertising. Advertisements of Life Insurance, Mutual funds, Chirag Din shirts, Forest Essentials and the much remembered Vicco products have been around for the longest time. But today, newer brands are willing to come on board for screen advertising. We now also see ads by Amazon Prime and Swiggy in the theatres which are fairly new category entrants in India. But a majority of brands are still reluctant to invest in the medium. Dina Mukherjee believes that brands need to be made aware of cinema advertising's merit and what it brings to the table, primarily for newer industries that are coming up. “Cinema advertising is not an expensive medium as opposed to print on television. It falls within the category of radio and OOH.”

Since the medium does not have an official measurement system, Carnival Cinemas has launched its own measurement tool in order to help the advertisers get the optimum result on their investment where they can choose to pay per seat, a concept similar to CPC (cost per client) that is watching the ad. In this case, the advertiser doesn’t have to worry whether the movie was a hit or a flop.

The medium, which currently has only 1-2 per cent of total ad spends by brands, is projected to grow at 20-25 per cent in the next five years. Currently, riding at a Rs 600 crore market, in-cinema advertising is slated to grow at a double digit growth in the next few years. Today cinema advertising has various touch points that include screen advertising, kiosk, promoter activity, food and beverage counter, restrooms, exit walls and seat branding. Going forward, innovation and experiential marketing will be key drivers to enhance in-cinema advertising experience.

On the flip side, the cost to advertise at a movie theatre is high, especially for a small business. Since small advertisers don’t have the budget to run a full fledged ad, they have to run a slide or kiosk in the cinema. Another major drawback of the medium is that alert people may arrive late to skip the initial ad playing round.

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With blockbuster movies like Baahubali, Padmavat, Udta Punjab, Airlift among others that have crossed the Rs 100 crore mark, audience footfall for such movies enables brands to bet big on cinema advertising.

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