Why mobile advertising is vital for cinema's future

Joe Evea
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Mobile advertising in cinemas? You can sneer, but it could it be the next breakthrough for brand engagement (Source: Getty)
The smartphone revolution collided with big media like a meteor, fundamentally changing the advertising landscape for good.
Yet compared to other media, cinema has been barely touched by mobile advertising. Are advertisers missing a trick?
Cinema’s popularity continues to grow despite films becoming ever more available elsewhere. Undoubtedly, this indicates that the experience of cinema plays a special role in our lives. Studies show that we treasure the experience of taking time out to concentrate on – to really pay attention to – a great film. Cinemagoers value the quiet, distraction-free environment; it gives respite from the busy, quick-fire world outside.
The holy grail for advertisers is to make an emotional connection with an audience. By creating palpable engagement, brands can build lasting customer loyalty, becoming pioneers of human connection within the industry. Crucially, however, this connection can only be made when an audience is receptive – which is why cinema remains such a powerhouse for advertisers. Immediately on arrival, cinema audiences are primed to connect with a compelling narrative and emotional journey. They are ready to separate themselves from the modern world and all its distractions; indeed, they have paid for the luxury of concentration.
The way in which audiences consume media has changed drastically over the past 50 years, as reflected in the fluctuating form of cinema advertising, from the silent monochrome of past silver screens, to the dazzling digital displays of today. The structure of cinema advertising however, hasn’t changed, simply because it hasn’t needed to.
Typically, advertisers are invited to reach cinemagoers only at the cinema itself. Occurring solely before the film, this is a closed, self-contained, one-way experience that has been incredibly effective but contrasts drastically to the modern possibilities of multi-channel communication. Such communication – powered of course, by the smartphone revolution – incorporates valuable data and concurrent human desire, namely the desire for connectedness and interaction. By engaging smartphone users as part of cinema advertising, it can drastically enhance the impact of any campaign.
Bright ads on mobile phones will sound like sacrilege to cinephiles and, yes, the film itself must always be treated as sacrosanct. Yet engaging audiences via smartphone apps before and after the main feature can help to turn a 30-second advertisement into a three-month conversation, helping to drive further trips to the cinema.
For example, today sees the launch of the world’s first global, connected cinema advertising campaign, in support of the UN’s Global Goals. Featuring animation from Aardman and the voices of Liam Neeson and Michelle Rodriguez, the spot includes a unique interactive component developed by Cinime International.
Audience members who install the Global Goals app and leave it open during the advertisement will see exclusive, sharable videos unlocked on their device.
'In general, connecting mobile to the cinema environment offers multiple opportunities for brands who may wish to play a game for a chance to win relevant prizes; some will prefer to receive bonus content or additional information; others want to connect and share their opinion - digital media knows no boundaries.
Cultural differences may exist, but the language of technology is universal. Connected Cinema - just like films themselves - has the power to become a global phenomenon.

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