Cinema ads enter new era amid tech developments

New advertising formats are creating a more compelling opportunity for advertisers. Chantelle Dietz investigates.

Volkswagen Up!: ad used DCM’s geolocation tool to direct viewers to their nearest VW dealership
Volkswagen Up!: ad used DCM’s geolocation tool to direct viewers to their nearest VW dealership

Cinemagoers watching Hollywood’s biggest films this month, such as The Wolf Of Wall Street and 12 Years A Slave, are likely to see an innovative Volkswagen ad for the Up! city car.

On the face of it, the spot, created by Adam & Eve/DDB with media by MediaCom, seems nothing out of the ordinary. It tells the story of a tall woman looking for love, who is surprised when the only man who fits the bill turns up to their date in an Up!.

However, using Digital Cinema Media’s new geo-location tool, VW gave the ad a local spin – directing audiences to their nearest VW retailer by featuring an address in the final frame.

VW is one of a number of brands making use of new cinema advertising tools available since the switch to digital. "Increasing flexibility has made cinema more accessible to a broader base of clients, and changes to distribution of ads and clearance times have also been a driver of growth," Kathryn Jacob, the chief executive of Pearl & Dean, says.

Perhaps the most intriguing development for brands is the opportunity to link the big screen with the small screen by overlaying digital with mobile so that consumers can be targeted not just by location but also individually via their phones.

Almost 200 UK cinemas are trialling DCM’s Cinime app, which enables advertisers to send offers and exclusive content to film-goers. The app also has the facility to track the audience once they have left the cinema, which DCM’s commercial director, Joe Evea, calls a "compelling opportunity". "The results we’ve had so far from advertisers using the application show engagement rate is over 40 per cent," he says.

DCM is working on a campaign for an unnamed brand that will see cinemagoers use their phone to control what’s on screen, creating a true interaction. "In essence, we will be creating live experience across multiple cinemas," Evea says. "Mobile has enabled us to take the live experience and make it mass." The campaign is scheduled to go live before the end of March.

The flexibility of digital means that activity doesn’t have to be limited to within the cinema walls. In 2013, Pearl & Dean and its partners delivered a series of pop-up cinemas sponsored by Samsung. The cinema sales house is looking to enhance the model this year with the addition of drive-ins. Jacob also notes a trend in event cinema, which she says has brought more affluent, discerning audiences, providing prospects for luxury brands. "We’re working with the English National Opera to create brand partnerships for them," she reveals.

The cinema sound system Dolby Atmos is set to make an impact later in the year. We are also likely to see the first UK examples of a process known as 37 Degrees, which adopts the science behind 3D technology to allow two different films to be screened simultaneously on the same screen through specially designed glasses. Pedigree in New Zealand made use of this process in a 2012 campaign.

The culmination of all these developments, Evea explains, is beginning to make cinema advertising a more rounded opportunity: "We are enabling advertisers to communicate on different platforms and at different times – so, rather than just a ten-minute window before the film starts, we are opening up access to an audience even when they are not at the cinema."

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