No Medium of the Decade? Cinema would be a worthy winner
A view from Karen Stacey & Kathryn Jacob

No Medium of the Decade? Cinema would be a worthy winner

The heads of the UK's two rival cinema ad sales houses unite to challenge Campaign's view.

When Campaign compiled its Annual this month, it felt: "reluctantly that no company stood out as the Medium of the Decade and decided against picking a winner".

This was quite surprising to us as, while the winning choice can always be debated, everyone ultimately wants a winner.

And surely it should have been possible considering the media industry has enjoyed 10 years of consecutive growth in UK and global adspend. How many other industries could demonstrate that growth in such an uncertain economic climate?

Radio, out-of-home and online media could all have been major contenders, but we’re here to make the case for cinema, which has had a blockbusting decade by any measure.

At the start of the decade, the cinema industry set out on a major digitisation project – transforming an analogue medium into a digital medium by 2012. 

This required huge levels of investment to turn every cinema digital across the UK and seismic change for our companies, Digital Cinema Media and Pearl & Dean, in how we delivered our ads and what we could now offer our advertiser and agency partners.

A new decade of flexibility, targeting and creative impact began, but we didn’t lose what made us special – the high attention and unique shared experience of the cinema medium, which has only become more important in driving our record-breaking success.

This was all against a backdrop of huge change for audiovisual media – not least the rise of streaming giants such as Netflix, often touted as a threat to our growth.

Our cinema partners continued to invest in building new cinemas over the decade, with the number of sites growing by 6.3% since 2010 (source: Cinema UK). 

The number of cinemagoers has also grown, with cinema admissions up 4.7% since 2010 (source: Comscore), reaching 177 million at the end of 2018 – the highest number since 1971 and up from 171 million in 2017.

But, while helpful (and long may our cinema and film partners continue to improve the cinema experience and release the best-quality content), this has not been the driver for our success as an advertising medium.

Revenue grew much faster than box office admissions

Our success is all the more remarkable given the relative stability of our admissions numbers and the increased competition for people’s time and attention.

Since 2010, we have grown cinema advertising revenue by a massive 55%, according to Warc – the biggest growth in revenue for any medium outside the internet.

And, in 2019, Warc announced that, for the first time in 18 years, internet advertising will lose its place as the highest-growing portion of the advertising market.

As we enter the next decade, cinema is the fastest growing medium.

Would anyone, including Campaign, have predicted this epic performance in 2009?

As Mark Ritson stated earlier this year: "Cinema, that ancient old fucker, is hot again."

It’s taken a decade of investment, creativity and collaboration to get here, but we couldn’t agree more.

We, and our amazing teams, intend to do everything we can to ensure the big screen remains a star contender when you do announce a Medium of the Decade in 2029.

Karen Stacey is chief executive of Digital Cinema Media and Kathryn Jacob is chief executive of Pearl & Dean