Movie Screen Advertising

Movie screen advertising is a widely used, but rarely recognized form of emerging media. People who go to the movies often are aware that they are being exposed to it, but don't think about it because of the numerous other forms of advertising that they're exposed to. This type of advertising is very effective and will certainly be around for the long haul.
  1. Overview
  2. Reasons for using this media
  3. Limitations
  4. Costs
  5. Reach and Frequency
  6. Scheduling
  7. Impact
  8. Audience Qualities
  9. Responsiveness
  10. Interesting Qualities
  11. Successful Advertisers
  12. References


Screenvision and National CineMediaare the two major advertising agencies that are responsible for creating ads for the numerous movie theater conglomerates which include Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment, Inc., Cinemark USA, Inc., Carmike Cinemas Inc., and numerous others [1]. With all of these theaters, advertising must be catered to the amount of regional theaters and audiences.

Screenvisions cinema advertising network consists of more than 14,000 screens across 2,300 theaters nationwide [2]. National CineMedia has nearly 17,000 screens and has made more than 90% of their revenue strictly from movie screen advertising in the past year [3]. Despite the number of movie screens available, only an estimated 79% of these screens play advertisements before movies [4].

Reasons for using this media

Marketers are continually seeking alternative means of getting their messages through the clutter that many are exposed to. Cinemas offer distraction free environments that are quiet, dark, project 40 foot images, have immersive sound technology and most importantly, the undivided attention of audience members. Many advertisers feel that by taking advantage of this, they can impact the younger, more educated and affluent audience that is more apt to spend money on leisure activities.

Movie advertisements also allow advertisers to play with longer time spots, opposed to television ads. Movies attract a younger audience that television has difficulty reaching due to the fact that cinema is one of the only places where the consumer can't make an ad go away [5].


Advertising in movie theaters must have certain stipulations that must be met in order to effectively convey the correct message. Both Screenvision and National CineMedia have certain guidelines that must be adhered to within their ads.

Screenvision ads cannot contain the following: drug or alcohol consumption, any pornographic images, religion, profanity, firearms, or violence [6].

National CineMedia ads cannot contain the following: political issues, adult material, NCM competition, tobacco, negative reflection of movies or the movie going experience, any mention of abortion or birth control, support of organizations and mention of specific diseases, or medicinal testing [7].


Cinema advertising is a much smaller and less established media than television advertising. Advertisers spent just over $908 million on cinema advertising, while more than $70 billion was spent on television advertising in the past year [8].


Reach and Frequency

There are many reasons why people decide to attend movies. The decision is based on new releases, quality and sound presentation, comfort, location, and ease of access. The basic motivations for attending movies include the movie going experience itself and the demand for a particular movie. On average, a person attends a movie 5.3 times a year. Males attend more movies than females, and there are more movie goers in the western United States. The ideal target market for cinema advertising is a white male, age 18-35, college educated, and more apt to spend money on leisure activities [9].

In all, cinema advertising reaches over 113 million Americans ages 12 and over in any given month. After three months time, the reach is increased to 149 million consumers. Six in ten (about 59%) movie goers watched the commercials before the movie started. Cinema advertising delivers to the youth audience (reaching 80% of teens) and also reaches consumers who otherwise avoid exposure to advertising. This is due to the fact that avid movie goers are more likely to subscribe to such services as TiVo, XM, or Sirius, which easily allow skipping over those commercials [10].


Of all movie goers, 29% are heavy internet users, partly because the audience members are young and tech-savvy and tend to use such things as the internet and other media sources more than other members. Also, 9% of the audience members are exposed to such things as outdoor advertising. With this, the cinema advertising schedule must compliment internet and outdoor advertising plans.

To target young consumers, JcPenney launched their back-to-school campaign during July and August in order to target teen girls that were watching big blockbuster movies in the summer [11].


This year, advertisers were given more of a chance to reach target markets with the many large releases that movie goers had flocked to theaters to see. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen brought in $109 million in its opening weekend, crushing all competition and being the largest June opening weekend and IMAXopening ever. Other movies this year that had large box office hits include: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, and The Time Traveler's Wife[12].

People attending movies tend to arrive at the theater at least 24 minutes before the movie starts, forcing them to the see the commercials beforehand. In a 2005 Screenvision Impact Study done in major cities throughout the U.S., targeted at 16-49 year olds (split evenly among males and females), found that movie goers who saw in-theater advertising are:

  • 44% more likely to remember the ad than consumers who saw it on television
  • 70% were more likely to correctly identify the advertised brand
  • Nearly half of the consumers could name the specific brands they saw advertised up to one week after seeing the commercial
  • 70% are more likely to be motivated by ads, meaning that they find the ad relevant to them and would like to see it again.

Also, movie goers are more likely to exhibit increased interest in the advertised brands, have a better opinion of the brands, and talk to others about a point that was brought out in the ad [13].

Audience Qualities

Movie consumers are classified as being young, upscale, tech-savvy, early adopters, and frequent shoppers. Most shop or go out to eat before or after the movie because going to the movies is a fun, inexpensive activity that can be integrated into their schedule.


63% of those who watched a movie in the theater in the last month "do not mind the advertisements they put on before the movie begins", with teens being the most tolerant. The more movies consumers see, the less likely they are to mind the commercials. Audience members are more receptive to cinema advertising than to other new emerging media platforms because commercials played in a movie theater are more acceptable than internet, DVD, or video game advertising. After viewing the advertisements, the audience members become more persuasive, 21% saying that they are more often interested in a product after they see it featured on the movie theater screen [14].

Interesting Qualities

As an industry first, Verizon Wirelessteamed up with Screenvision to introduce a text message polling program for movie goers. During 3,500 different show times, the interactive program asked movie goers questions related to their music preferences and gave them an option to text their responses. Results of the polls were then displayed on the movie screen in a bar chart, showing the various tastes of the audience. This was part of the pre-movie entertainment along with short films produced by Verizon Wireless promoting their V-Castservice [15]. Screenvision also produces the only host-format entertainment pre-show in the cinema advertising industry, which airs over a 7,000 screen HD network [16].

Successful Advertisers

Screenvision successfully advertises for the following content partners:
National CineMedia also has specific content partners which include:

Both Screenvision and National CineMedia implement local businesses such as lawyers, dentists, car dealerships, and service stations into their advertising as well.

The top 30 companies using cinema advertising include:


1. U.S. Movie Theaters Industry Market Research Report. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
2. Screenvision. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
3. National CineMedia. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
4. Creativity and Memory Effects. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
5. 'Cinema is a big night out, not a small night in'. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
6. Screenvision. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
7. National CineMedia. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
8. Where are advertisers? At the movies.. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
9. U.S. Movie Theaters Industry Market Research Report. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
10. The Arbitron Cinema Advertising Study: Making Brands Shine in the Dark.. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
11. Movie Screen Seen As Best Way to Reach Teen Demographic. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
12. Screenvision. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
13. Screenvision. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
14. The Arbitron Cinema Advertising Study: Making Brand Shine in the Dark. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
15. 'Cinema is a big night out, not a small night in'. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
16. Where are advertisers? At the movies. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
17. Screenvision. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
18. National CineMedia. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
19. U.S. Creative Monitoring: Cinema. Retrieved September 10, 2009.