By Toni Fitzgerald
Jun 16, 2009
It was a down year for nearly every form of advertising, with everything from magazines to outdoor taking a hit in 2008.
A notable exception was cinema advertising, which recorded its sixth straight year of growth, up 5.8 percent over 2007, from $539.9 million to $571.4 million, according to the Cinema Advertising Council.
Spending on the medium has increased by 208 percent since 2002, the first year it was measured.
In 2008 the bulk of the money, just over 90 percent, was spent on on-screen advertising versus advertising elsewhere in the theater. That’s down slightly from 92 percent the previous year.
National or regional advertisers accounted for 77 percent of sales.
Driving that growth is improved technology, which now enables advertisers to swap out and update creative digitally at the flip of a switch across hundreds of theaters.
That’s made cinema advertising that much more attractive to marketers, especially national brands.
While the media economy overall fell 2.8 to 4 percent during 2008, depending on whose figures you believe, cinema advertising still pulled in new advertisers.
“We started digitizing seven years ago, and that made it easier for advertisers who had never explored cinema before to start using it,” says Dave Kupiec, president and chairman of the CAC.
Under the old technology, creative had to be distributed to individual theaters in the form of film. On-screen advertising was sold in four-week chunks, which essentially precluded marketers who wanted to advertise a limited-time promotion, like a weekend sale.
It was also cost-prohibitive, with a short spot running up to $300,000 to produce.
“Digital changed that. They can swap an ad out any time in the flight,” Kupiec says. “And there are no film costs. Say someone sends in a two-minute videotape. We can put it up via satellite and send it to 18,000 movie screens.”
Kupiec says cinema advertising saw some of its biggest growth in the retail area this year because of that technology, with advertisers such as Kohl’s and Sears coming in for the first time in recent years.
“The thing that’s getting attention is mobile applications, what to do with cell phones with touch screens, and 3D screens,” Kupiec says. “It’s technology that becomes new and exciting, captivating media. We find we’re getting a lot of requests for that sort of thing.”
Automotive remained one of the top ad categories in 2008, with Asian automakers spending especially heavily. Other top categories included television, consumer packaged goods, credit cards, fashion and movie studios.
Still, whether the ad spending growth will continue into what’s been a dismal start to the year for all media remains to be seen.
“The reality of this economy is that no matter how good cinema is, the number of contracts we’re writing is still increasing, but the amount we’re writing per contract is down versus prior years,” Kupiec says. “We know the economy is in the dumper for a year or so. That doesn’t mean we’ve lost momentum, it just means we’ve lost some money.”
CAC members account for 82 percent of the nearly 39,000 U.S. movie screens.
About Hollywood Branding:
Hollywood Branding, started in 2001, works with 30 marketing companies to provide a simple, stress-free avenue to research and run ad campaigns on movie theaters nationwide.
Our database includes every cinema in the U.S. that offers any kind of advertising opportunity on-screen or in the lobby. We offer free planning, rates, research, and media buying expertise.
Some of our clients include Disney, US Army, the Food & Drug Administration, the state of VA, the city of Los Angeles, the FL Health Department, the state of OR, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, eBay, and the National Crime Commission.