Coming To A Theater Near You: Data-Driven Advertising, Starring National CineMedia And Fandango

SilverIf you’ve been to a movie recently, you’ve likely seen a pre-show advertising program called FirstLook.

While you probably don’t think of it as data-driven marketing, that might change given a partnership between Fandango and National CineMedia (NCM), the in-theater advertising network that develops that ad package.

NCM will use Fandango’s anonymized mobile and online moviegoer data to improve targeting for brand partners, as well as incorporate Fandango-sponsored original content into FirstLook, which appears on 20,000 screens nationwide.

“The partnership provides Fandango a wonderful brand awareness opportunity as well as a distribution platform for premium short-form content we’re producing for consumers who love movies,” said Fandango CMO Adam Rockmore.

Some of that content, approximately two minutes long, will begin to air this month and grow in volume in the first half of 2016.

Although a deal between NCM and Fandango would seem natural, data-driven targeting in a theater environment is still somewhat of a misnomer.

While theater advertising seems like one of the least addressable forms of advertising, only more recently leveraging digital data sets, those in the cinema advertising industry note the medium’s unique contextual qualities.

“Consumers should expect to see all kinds of content including from digital content owners like Fandango and more in cinema because we have a brilliant venue to execute with,” said Cliff Marks, president of sales and marketing for NCM. “It’s a 50-foot screen, Dolby sound and a captive audience.” 

National CineMedia will benefit from insights on Fandango’s 42 million monthly unique visitors. Theater attendance might be on the decline, but it’s worth noting that 68% of the North American population – or 229.7 million people – went to the movies at least once in 2014, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

And about 51% of all movie tickets bought and sold in North America were from frequent moviegoers, those who visit a theater once per month.

“It’s a very select audience, so for Fandango, running general advertising where there’s potential for 30-40% waste doesn’t really make sense,” said Marks. “We feel pretty confident that 100% of people who come into our theaters like movies.”

Although NCM has the most scale of any cinema movie network at 27,000 screens nationwide, reaching 700 million moviegoers annually, its audience-targeting tactics had been more of a blunt-force instrument than precision-based to date.

Its segments span three versions of FirstLook programming for G/PG, PG-13 and R-rated audiences, each of which has different types of brand messaging.

The Fandango deal, as well as a recent data licensing agreement with Movio, a data and analytics platform for film distributors, will help NCM build an “arsenal” of data, which will make it much more strategic in conversations with brands, Marks said.

“If you’re trying to reach a certain kind of person who likes romantic comedies [and eats] Mexican food before or after the movies, we’re going to have the data to tell them that,” said Marks. “I don’t care if you’re a cinema, TV or digital network. Everyone wants better data and better metrics to help understand the best way to target in that medium. Brands and agencies are buying in a much more video-neutral way.”

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