National CineMedia’s big merger with rival Screenvision came a cropper. But the movie theater ad sales power says it hasn’t missed a beat: Today, at its upfront presentation, NCM unveiled a new branding effort — it’s calling itself “America’s Movie Network.” It plans to put a face on its pre-movie First Look package: E!’s Maria Menounos will host the ad-friendly fare.
NCM also made changes in the ad sales process, part of its effort to compete more directly with television and other video providers. It is offering audience guarantees, made possible by changes at Nielsen’s survey panels so NCM can offer apples-to-apples comparisons with TV ratings. The guarantees go beyond demos to include consumer information. That could be useful if, say, a buyer wants to target 12-to-34-year-olds with a landline telephone.
The company plans to improve that next year when it rolls out its Cinema Audience Targeting Optimizer system. It will enable advertisers to reach demos to be offered in packages such as the NCM Hispanic network, the NCM African American network, and the NCM High Income network.
In addition, NCM dropped the price it’s charging per viewer. It cut the unit cost to reach 1,000 people in the target 18-to-49 demo to about $50 from $75.
“In previous years we were like the local Rolls Royce dealer,” Sales and Marketing president Cliff Marks tells me. “People loved it, but couldn’t afford to walk in.” The new pricing “is competitive with the top 10 primetime television shows.”
He says that the “America’s Movie Network” slogan will help sharpen perceptions of NCM’s business. That’s helpful at a time when many cable networks no longer offer what their names promise. “My favorite shows on American Movie Classics are [TV shows] Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Better Call Saul,” Marks says.
Meanwhile the addition of Menounos opens opportunities to offer more interviews with stars, behind the scenes features and, of course, opportunities to sell product integrations. “Why couldn’t she be holding an Apple phone and take a selfie?” Marks asks.
Some of the content, including Movie Minute segments, will also run online. NCM will offer digital advertisers additional info so they can target people by the movie tickets they buy, their location, and other metrics.