Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

In the new age of movie streaming, one could be forgiven for thinking that cinema has become the media’s poor cousin. But new figures show that’s not the case.

According to research company Warc, advertising in cinemas globally has grown almost 7% year on year.

Though the picture is not as rosy in SA — growth is up 1.9% — advertisers are still finding the big screen an attractive offering.

Says Motheo Matsau, head of marketing and sales at Ster-Kinekor: "A number of factors are contributing to the rise in cinema adspend. First, the medium has numerous strengths, such as impact, viewability and single-screen focus. Cinema audiences focus their attention almost entirely on what’s happening on screen, so they watch, absorb and remember advertising. Video is huge right now, and cinema remains the king of video."

Matsau also says cinema is a real differentiator. It offers high resonance with audiences, coupled with activation and direct-to-consumer experiences, which flex cinema’s muscle. So there is more to cinema than you see on the big screen.

The cost of advertising is also tailored to the advertiser’s needs, says Matsau. "We quote based on impressions for a desired target market or specific, targeted screens."

Warc says factors like these have made cinema the ad medium that has grown second fastest over the past year, behind the internet.

In Europe, advertisers spend 1.6 times more on cinema per admission than in the US.

China is the largest cinema ad market globally. It equates to a 47.3% share of global cinema ad spend.

But in the US — the second-largest cinema market, with a projected value of $735m this year — the medium draws less than 0.5% of media budgets on average.

Research by data marketing company Ebiquity has found that cinema outperforms all other media at triggering an emotional response, guaranteeing a safe environment and getting ads noticed.

However, the medium scores lowest in increasing campaign return on investment, maximising campaign reach and generating short-term sales.

Cinema also attracts a younger, more affluent audience of people who tend to be lighter TV viewers. Research company Kantar Millward Brown has also found that among 16-to 19-year-olds, cinema is the most popular traditional advertising medium, with 59% feeling "positive" about it (compared with 34% for print, 38% for TV and 50% for outdoor).

But data from the Motion Picture Association of America shows that the amount consumers spend on digital home entertainment, including online subscriptions such as Netflix, surpassed the amount spent at the cinema globally for the first time last year ($42.6bn versus $41.1bn).

James McDonald, data editor of Warc Data and author of the research, says: "Cinema offers advertisers access to younger, more affluent audiences that have an affinity with the medium. This enables ads to be screened in a brand-safe environment where they will be noticed, often in a location that is close to a retail outlet and, by extension, a point of purchase."