Captive audience: How cinema advertising super-sized gaming campaigns

Cinema advertising rivals outdoor as literally the biggest way to show off your brand to consumers. Add in a thundering soundtrack and games can be shown at their very finest. And with 4K in-game graphics now the norm, you don’t necessarily need to rely on expensive CGI or live-action trailers to get your point across.

We talk Antonio Garcia, client director from market-leader DCM, which has 82 per cent of the UK market, about the possibilities and how even smaller publishers can get involved.

What kind of reach does cinema advertising have?

The cinema industry has experienced huge growth over the last 30 years. Annual admissions have grown from 74.8m in 1987 to 171m in 2017. 78 per cent of the UK population are cinemagoers, with an average of 2.7m weekly admissions to cinemas covered by DCM.

Cinema is able to engage a different audience to that of other media. The medium delivers efficient targeting and extended campaign cover against traditionally hard to reach audiences such as 16-34s, ABC1s, Londoners, dual-viewing families and men. Additionally, 92 per cent of those who’ve bought games in the last year are cinemagoers. Historically hard to reach and light TV viewing, game purchasers are 58 per cent more likely than the average UK adult to be a heavy cinemagoer.

How does cinema position itself?

Over the last three years we have been working to reposition cinema as an intrinsic part of AV schedules. Our audiences are further aligned with TV audiences as part of our wider plan to cement cinema’s place on the AV media plan and make it easier to buy cinema [campaigns].

At DCM, we have a range of buying routes, from an Adult Audience Guarantee Pack (AGP) that targets an affluent, socially active populous, to a Male AGP that allows advertisers to have a presence with a highly engaged male audience by releases. These routes help brands align with key genres, categories and broad cinema audiences throughout the year. Advertisers can plan by day, showing, audience, film or cinema – meaning a brand is always relevant and on target.

And how do you track the effectiveness of campaigns?

The ultimate measure of success is whether a campaign is able to deliver a return on investment (ROI) and our Building Box Office Brands, Volume II research, which was launched alongside global research company Kantar Millward Brown and marketing knowledge consultancy Benchmarketing, has proven how cinema investment can help advertisers optimise the return their ad campaign delivers.

Cinema delivers significant impact per person reached for key equity metrics including salience, love, difference, consideration and recommendation. The medium’s power for short-term activations has also increased thanks to new ways of buying by audience, genre, and even showing time – all of which has helped bring a new sophistication to targeting in cinemas.

Should publishers outside the biggest hitters consider using cinema advertising? How scalable is the platform?

Since going digital in 2012 DCM has been able to target by film, by showing, by cinema and by time across our whole estate. We can create bespoke opportunities for brands, with the cinema medium easier to plan and buy than ever before.

We find that clients with smaller budgets will tactically use cinema for early announcement or smaller launch campaigns, limiting the run of their ads to opening weeks to target early adopters first and fast.

In fact, nearly 20 gaming brands advertised on cinema over the last 12 months, using the medium in a variety of ways. 40 per cent were either first-time cinema advertisers or brands that hadn’t used cinema for a long period, buying into the power of the medium due to DCM’s flexible offering.

With the big superhero and sci-fi blockbusters, it seems that gaming and film share a core audience?

Heavy cinemagoers are twice as likely to be ‘absolute gamers’ (who live and breathe gaming and tend to have high consumption on all game types, across all devices), making the two synonymous.

One example is Xbox One X, which targeted the opening week audiences for three blockbusters (Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League and Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as a result of knowing this strong correlation between heavy cinemagoers and the gaming audience.

Cinema offers good contextual fit too – EA and PlayStation ran bespoke copy for the new Star Wars Battlefront II game in reels before Star Wars: The Last Jedi – a perfect match.

Additionally, Ubisoft has also maximised this strong correlation between gaming and film. For Far Cry 5 they wanted to do something different, they decided to run 4 x 5” blips in the reel followed by a 30” ad so audiences could see the story featured in the ad play out across the reel.

Call of Duty has also maximised the close link between gaming and film, running in cinema’s premium Silver Spot (positioned after the DCM closing ident and just before the start of the trailers) during Dunkirk. This campaign is the perfect example of contextually relevant, cultural moments being brought to life through cinema.

A cinema is the ultimate opportunity to let creative assets shine – is that a big attraction for your clients?

The cinema medium proposition is stronger than ever. The power of the darkened room, big screen and immersive sound creates the best viewing experience for audiences who have paid to pay attention.

This unique, uncluttered environment adds a sense of escapism for viewers who are emotionally and physically engaged, literally looking forward at the big screen with no distractions. Amplifying the power of AV content, the emotional impact of cinema delivers brand fame and drives long-term sustainable growth.

Additionally, we’re in an enviable position in that we know our film slate far ahead of time. 2018 has already seen an unprecedented run of blockbusters, with many relevant titles for gaming brands still to come, including Ant-Man & the Wasp, The Predator and Venom.

2019 could potentially be one of the biggest ever years for cinema. Detective Pikachu, Angry Birds 2 and Jumanji 2 are perfect targets for the family-friendly gaming audience while, given the crossover in audiences (80% of superhero movie fans are gamers), a whole host of superhero movies, including Dark Phoenix, Captain Marvel, Avengers, Spider-Man, The New Mutants, Wonder Woman 2, Godzilla 3, Shazam, John Wick 3 and Star Wars: Episode IX are just some of the titles that brands will be aligning with next year!

Do clients also promote mobile and other ongoing ‘live’ titles?

Cinema plays an instrumental role in executing key gaming campaign launches, capitalising on relevant cultural moments, detailed audience targeting and tactical thinking.

We have also seen clients promote mobile and other online titles as the two remain culturally aligned. An example of this is Clash of Clans, who invested over £1m and buying the Gold Spot in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. Its campaign objective was to achieve cut-through during the Christmas period, engaging a very specific audience, with cinema the best environment to amplify its impact.

Another example was the largest entertainment product in the world, GTA V, aligning its ongoing and extremely successful online mode in cinemas alongside the biggest cultural blockbuster running at the time: Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Both campaigns were successful at building brand awareness at a typical holiday downtime when consumers are more likely to play games on their mobile or go back to their favourite multiplayer titles.

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