Cinema: not a ‘nice to have
Cinema is facing the same challenges the world over and South Africa is no different. These, together with a few of the country’s own unique challenges, makes for an exciting future with huge opportunities in the sector.
So says Eric Blignaut, Senior Account Executive at Cinemark, who is very optimistic about the medium’s future. “The audience still available to the cinema medium in this country, the blockbusters coming out of Hollywood this year (which will make it the biggest content year in history) and the new offerings recently launched by the industry (IMAX, Prestige Cinemas and a new advertising model) mean that our growth potential is huge – both from a cinema experience and advertising perspective.”
Cinemark will soon launch a product into the market that guarantees a set number of eyeballs for an advertiser. “It delivers the benefits of being in cinema but with a guaranteed riveted audience; thereby removing the sometimes unpredictable nature of the medium,” explains Blignaut.
This means that if a specific title or period does not perform as expected the advertiser still gets the audience, irrespective. “Because of the volume of screens we have we are able to adjust the schedule on a weekly basis to ensure the advertiser gets the agreed number of eyeballswithin the agreed period .”
This is only the beginning he says. “This product gives the numbers. The next step is to drill down into our data sources and then deliver the guaranteed audience number of a specific audience profile required by an advertiser.”
This is on a par with the developments taking place in the cinema sector globally. “These developments are happening in response to the challenges the sector is facing worldwide. These include the integration with digital, research and analytics, and the delivery of metrics in a strained environment,” says Blignaut.
Up to now cinema has largely piggybacked on related stakeholders to integrate cinema with digital but now it is looking to build and provide its own platforms. “currently these come in the form of apps and social media,” he explains.
The second challenge is research and analytics. Overseas the cinema industry is investing large amounts of money into research. For example, Blignaut says, one group has employed neuroscience to track the brain waves of a person watching an advertisement in a cinema vs. a person watching a television advertisement. The results make for a powerful argument for the medium.
However, it is the third challenge where the big discussion is taking place, and where the new offering from Cinemark comes in. “To move from being seen as a nice to have to being a need to have, and on top of the schedule, cinema has to deliver metrics. In other words, the hard numbers in terms of eyeballs and what that then translates into. This is not a new challenge, but a long standing one that has become even more urgent as the economic environment becomes more demanding,” says Blignaut.
The whole world is facing these challenges and we are the same in terms of delivering the results our advertisers are after, he adds.
Despite facing the same challenges South Africa is quite far behind when it comes to activities such as research and establishing platforms – what Blignaut terms as other “useable stuff” for marketers. “There is huge opportunity and as an industry we can do a lot more to advance our cause.”
This does not mean that Cinema does not have unique opportunities for advertisers right now he quickly adds. “The beauty of our business is that people still love movies. They talk about them, get emotional about them and that is the type of engagement marketers want. South Africa is a receptive market. In 18 months, Ster Kinekor’s app has been downloaded to more than 1.5 million devices. That’s huge! The question we are asking ourselves is how do we tap into this effectively?”