It sounds geeky, but this could be important for the movie theater ad sales business: The No. 1 seller, National CineMedia, plans to challenge rivals including TV in the $75 billion a year Spot market in a new deal with ad software company Strata.
The Comcast-owned firm seeks to provide national advertisers with a one-stop shop to target messages to specific local markets. It will now offer theater inventory as well as opportunities in cable, broadcast, newspaper, radio, and outdoor media.
(The Justice Department’s antitrust unit is investigating whether Comcast has too much clout in pay TV’s spot market. The cable company said late last year that the ad market is “robustly competitive.”)
NCM Sales and Marketing President Cliff Marks says the arrangement will “make [an advertiser’s] job a little bit easier” when it looks to target messages. He hopes to persuade buyers to shift dollars from television to theaters by promoting the fact that his venues have “no political advertising, no pre-emptions and no premiums.”
In pricing local theater sales, Strata will estimate potential impressions by looking at box office trends, individual theater attendance projections and film-specific box office projections. Nielsen will provide audience estimates using demos and ratings similar to the ones it uses for TV.
With Nielsen offering apples-to-apples comparisons, the deal with NCM provides advertisers “an easy way to reach local movie audiences alongside local Spot TV buys through our software,” Strata VP Judd Rubin says.
NCM will begin spot ad sales at its partner theaters in the 25 largest markets. The remainder of its network should be available by mid year. The company is owned by Regal, AMC Entertainment, and Cinemark and serves 20,050 screens in 1,600 theaters in 187 markets.