Advertising Spend In UK Cinemas Set To Cross $250m For First Time; Apple Is Top Advertiser

Joaquin Phoenix in 'Joker'
Joker Warner Bros.

2019 is shaping up to be a banner year for advertising revenue at UK cinemas.

According to figures published today by advertising company GroupM, the amount spent by brands at UK theaters will top £200m ($258m) for the first time by year end, up significantly from 2018’s total of £184.8m ($239m).

The top advertiser in 2019 to date is tech giant Apple, followed by McDonald’s and Sky.

Top 10 cinema advertisers so far in 2019 (to 28 November)

1. Apple – £13.5m ($17.5m)
2. McDonald’s – £9.9m ($12.8m)
3. Sky – £6.87m ($8.9m)
  • 4. Samsung – £6m ($7.8m)
  • 5. Amazon – £5.7m ($7.4m)
  • 6. BGL Group – £5.3m ($6.9m)
7. BMW – £5.2m ($6.7m)
  • 8. Procter & Gamble – £4.93m ($6.4m)
9. Audi – £4.89m ($6.3m)
  • 10. Reckitt Benckiser – £4.1m ($5.3m)

Source: Nielsen

U.S. movies, in particular Disney films, have been the big drivers for eyeballs in UK cinemas this year. The highest-grossing pics so far are Avengers: Endgame ($61m), The Lion King ($31.9m), Frozen II ($29.3m and counting), and Warner Bros’ Joker ($25.5m and counting).

UK box office for the year to date sits at £1.2bn ($1.55bn), down 4% on the same period in 2018, but with several significant titles to come including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Cats.

Karen Stacey, CEO of UK advertising booker Digital Cinema Media, said that it was also projecting a record year.

“2019 is set to be a record-breaking year for advertising revenue on the big screen. In a time of trust issues, viewability challenges and declining audiences, finding cut-through and impact for brands is harder than ever. Despite the ever-growing proliferation of content choices across media platforms, people continue to flock to the cinema, with the medium consistently delivering strong audiences,” she said.

Stacey added that the theatrical window, which is particularly long in the UK (films must play exclusively in cinemas for 16 weeks to qualify for a policy that is enforced by all multiplex sites), was proving a benefit.

“The exclusive theatrical window ensures that audiences come to the cinema to see the latest content first. This is a unique position for cinema to be in and it’s inspiring to see our industry is still thriving. At the end of last year, UK cinema admissions totalled an incredible 177 million, the highest levels for 50 years. Even more impressive is that it is young audiences that are continuing to drive cinema attendance, with the all-important 16-34 audience accounting for nearly half of all cinema tickets sold each year.

“A range of brands from motors to entertainment to games and consoles, finance, telecoms and fashion have taken advantage of booking into films this year to create a deep synergy with cinema’s unique audience in an environment they feel comfortable in. We are also seeing more bespoke for cinema content being created, with advertisers pushing the boundaries of the big screen experience,” she added.

The wider advertising landscape is experiencing significant growth. The total spent in the UK this year across all outlets (online, TV, newspapers, radio, physical, etc.) is projected to hit £22.2bn ($28.7bn). Cinema will account for around 0.9% of the total pot, in-line with last year and down slightly from its 1% share in 2017.

GroupM is projecting that advertising revenue in cinemas will continue to grow, though at a slower rate. It predicts that by 2024 the total spent will be £231.5m ($299m).

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