National CineMedia told advertisers today that it can help them reach “the unreachables,” aka 18-to-34-year-olds who are drawn more to movies than to linear TV.
In an upfront presentation held for an unmasked, in-person crowd at New York’s Lincoln Center, the company announced the launch of a new data platform, NCMx, which contains 274 million moviegoing records. The aim of it is to give brands insights into consumer behavior. Throughout the 40-minute presentation, the company emphasized its position as a reach vehicle to younger, desirable consumers.
Sizzle reels shown during the event at Walter Reade Theater highlighted a run of successful film releases over the past six months after the long struggle in 2020 and early 2021. A particular standout, of course, was Spider-Man: No Way Home, which NCM says delivered more 18-to-34-year-olds in its opening weekend than did last February’s Super Bowl.
After riding out the pandemic, younger moviegoers now “proudly gather, tens of millions of them every weekend, at magnificent temples built to celebrate their freedom from the couch,” Chief Revenue Officer Mike Rosen said. “The cinema is where they develop brand loyalties and make key purchase decisions.” Further, he maintained, “They don’t hate advertising. They just want it on their terms.”
Nearly one out of every two adults who visited a movie theater in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 were between the ages of 18 and 34, the company said. About 79% of moviegoers in NCM’s theater network, which spans 20,700 screens, are under 39. While there is hand-wringing in other parts the movie business over the extreme youth skew (with family fare and adult prestige titles still in a precarious state), NCM sees the trend as auspicious for brands.
“Declining audiences on linear TV and the extensive cord-cutting driving streaming, especially among ad-skipping, younger audiences, has forced clients to look for alternative options,” said Scott Felenstein, a former Discovery sales vet who is president of sales, marketing and partnerships at National CineMedia. “Movie theaters continue to attract and capture the undivided attention of this highly desirable 18-34-year-old audience en masse.”
A particularly effective weapon in the arsenal, the company said during the presentation, is its new slate of Platinum ads. They typically have longer running times than TV’s conventional 30 seconds and they play after the announced showtime, just before the final trailer attached to the feature film. Felenstein described Platinum as “the ultimate commercial placement. It’s embedded in the heart of the trailers, just minutes before the movie.” Crypto.com is one brand to have recently used Platinum, NCM said, citing healthy increases in brand recall and other metrics.
In an interview with Deadline, CEO Tom Lesinski, a former senior exec at Warner Bros and Paramount, said the rollout of Platinum has been accompanied by five minutes of “lights-down” inventory. Those ads also play after the announced showtime but before the feature actually begins. While the exec estimated that “north of 90%” of exhibition partners (including major players Regal and Cinemark) have signed on to Platinum, top circuit AMC Entertainment remains a holdout. Late in 2019, just before the Covid curtain fell on the industry, AMC CEO Adam Aron delivered a sharp rejoinder to the initiative, deriding it as an infringement on the enjoyment of ticket buyers, who would find the ads “quite jarring.”
AMC has not yet committed to Platinum, Lesinski confirmed. “Obviously, AMC is living in its own world right now and they have other things to think about,” he said. “They’ve been successful focusing on all kinds of things, so it’s hard to second-guess them.”
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