Ads Give Moviegoers Chance to Interact

Published on: 2015-02-05

According to this article at MediaWeek, "Verizon Wireless and cinema-advertising network Screenvision [have partnered to combine] mobile and social-networking applications to test an interactive polling program in American movie theaters." The article continues:
Advertisers are taking advantage of the full moviegoing experience, from theater lobbies to concession stands, producing a sizeable growth in integrated campaigns. "[This] can, literally, double or triple the impact a brand can make on the movie-goer," said Stu Ballatt, president and chairman of the CAC.

Until now, theater owners have had an understandable aversion to any ad campaign that would see moviegoers using their cell phones during pre-show entertainment, said Kerry Perse, director of digital relationship marketing at Horizon Media. "What I find to be interesting is the rapid change of mind-set of the cinema owners: They really have done a 180 from where they were," said Perse.

It's a welcome development for Screenvision and direct competitor National CineMedia, which are seeking to boost revenue by delivering better customer engagement in the form of livelier pre-show entertainment.

Screenvision and Verizon Wireless rolled out their polling program last Friday in movie theaters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The spots ask audiences questions related to their musical preferences, and results appear on the screen. Participation is possible across all handsets and carriers. Also featured was a Verizon-branded short film directed by Spike Lee that posed content questions to the audience. Results were unavailable at press time.

One goal is to keep consumers engaged long after the final credits roll. "What you start to do is you raise the engagement level of your moviegoer," said Mike Chico, evp of sales at Screenvision. "So, you have people at the very rudimentary stage who are gaming or polling and the next step would be to ask, 'Would you like to learn more about our product and enter our rewards program?'"
Our take:

Considering how many people are already using their mobile phones in the theater, this idea makes a good deal of sense.  Of course, the theaters may have to abandon their plans to intentionally block wireless signals should the deal work out. Moviegoers are also now used to both pre-roll advertisements as well as the quiz-show type programming that fills the screen before films begin, so it's likely that the addition of interactivity via mobile phone will move from new/novelty to expected part of the experience fairly quickly.  Perhaps the biggest challenge will be convincing moviegoers to pay attention to the screen instead of just using their mobile phones for alternative forms of entertainment.  For that matter, perhaps the biggest challenge will be convincing people to keep going to the movies in the first place.

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