Get ready to take a last look at FirstLook, the pre-movie ad bundle that National CineMedia provides for more than 1,600 theaters in 187 markets.
Late this year NCM will replace it with the more entertainment-focused program Noovie, the company told advertisers at an upfront presentation today.
The new offering will be a “digital ecosystem delivering entertaining content, purposeful commerce and interactive gaming opportunities,” CEO Andy England said. “Most importantly for NCM and our brand partners, Noovie gives movie audiences a reason to arrive early to discover what’s next.”
That’s important: Many buyers are questioning the effectiveness of cinema ads as theaters increasingly sell assigned seats. That enables ticket buyers to show up at the last minute — after the commercials — without worrying that they’ll end up sitting too close, too far or at an awkward angle to the screen.
NCM plans to fill Noovie with features in addition to the ads. To illustrate, the company served up an interview with actress Kate Mara and clips of pre-concert moments with Foo Fighters. It also will team with Indigenous Media to produce locally focused documentaries.
The company hopes to engage audiences with in-theater and digital games. They include a trivia contest, Name That Movie, and a fantasy sports-like box office prediction game called Fantasy Movie League.
The game’s co-creator, Matthew Berry, says that fantasy players “are more brand aware, they’re more brand loyal and they’re stickier than non-players, which is great news for advertisers. The Fantasy Movie League playing audience is also much more gender balanced than fantasy sports, and younger — 60% of our players are 35 or less.”
NCM President Cliff Marks says that the company will offer a Noovie app and social media channels that “allow us to consistently drive people from the pre-show to mobile and back again — engaging movie audiences wherever they may be. We’re building it all to be a great consumer experience, which will of course make it a great opportunity for brands as well.”
Blockbuster movies are still the big draw for cinema advertisers, though. NCM tried to whet buyers’ appetites today by offering trailers and clips for Baby Driver, It, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Bad Moms Christmas, Girls Trip and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Chief Revenue Officer Scott Felenstein said moviegoers’ average age is 32, and “they’re affluent, incredibly diverse, and extremely social. … And most moviegoing takes place on weekends, the same days that people are most likely to make a purchasing decision.”
What’s more, he said Noovie’s app and digital connections will amass data about moviegoers that will “pour” into NCM’s services for advertisers and “lead to even better targeting, measurability and ROI for your campaigns.”