National CineMedia (NCM) Upfront 2016: For America’s Movie Network, It’s All About Millennials, Content, and Data
NEW YORK, NY (May 18, 2016) — National CineMedia (NCM) presented its fifth annual upfront event at the AMC Lincoln Square movie theater in New York today, and it was all about Millennials, content, and data for America’s Movie Network.
NCM’s new CEO, Andy England, started off the presentation by noting that he had finally found all of the hard-to-reach young people he had been searching for in his many years as a marketer — they’re at the movies. “329 Million tickets were sold to Millennials at our theaters last year. Put simply, we have more Millennials visiting our theaters in one year than there are people in the United States, nearly 4 million more. So, why do Millennials love the movies? Because this is the best content there is. We have this highly desirable audience because we have the best content. Opening weekend for movies are, by definition, culturally relevant. Millennials want to see films as they are released because it puts them in the know. It gives them social currency. Having a point of view on Deadpool or the Jungle Book, or being excited about Bad Moms, is to be part of the narrative or to be woven into the fabric of popular culture.”
NCM’s newly appointed president, Cliff Marks, then took the stage to talk about Millennial moviegoers, noting, “NCM is the #1 weekend network for all demos, reaching over 700 million moviegoers every year. But the really big news is that our Millennial movie-going audience grew over 16 percent in 2015 and is already up 8 percent so far this year! We are now a premier Millennial network, with an average A18-34 weekly rating of 9.9 in 2015 — that’s any given week of any given month of the year. Nobody else but NCM can deliver an engaged Millennial audience with that level of viewable GRPs on a consistent basis.”
NCM also unveiled new research from a joint study with Omnicom Media Group’s Annalect and CivicScience about Millennials’ movie-going habits, which offers some great insights for advertisers, studios and theater owners. Millennials make up the largest frequent movie-going age group, and this generation is highly invested in the overall movie-going process:
- Millennials are 50 percent more likely than the general population to say that movies are a passion of theirs.
- Millennials want to talk about their movie-going experience, and more likely to be influenced by social media (Facebook and YouTube in particular).
- 46 percent of Millennials aim to go to the movies on a film’s opening weekend.
- The most frequently reported reason for seeing a movie in a theater is that Millennials don’t want to miss out by waiting until a movie is available at home.
- Exclusive theatrical formats like IMAX and 11.1 surround sound, coupled with luxury amenities like recliner seating and upgraded food options, are key drivers for a generation willing to pay more for a better experience.
- Millennials are the age group most likely to purchase movie tickets in advance.
- 86 percent of Millennials arrive early to the movie theater.
Marks added, “And we all know, Millennials don’t just want content pushed out to them; they like to personally interact with it as well. We’ve listened to the demand for brand interactivity, and NCM is proud to be working with Audience Entertainment and TimePlay to bring both gesture-based and mobile phone-based interactivity to cinema. We’ll be launching on approximately 500 screens and growing to over 1000 in the near future so consumers can interact with your brands live on the big screen.”
2015 was the biggest year ever at the movies, but as Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, pointed out, the good news doesn’t end there. “2016 is off to a blistering start, pushing year-to-date box office revenue up nearly 8% vs. last year. The line-up of films on tap for Q4 2016 through Q3 2017 is, according to comScore’s PreAct service, already resonating on social media, and that is a compelling indicator that the marketing campaigns for these films are effectively creating excitement among potential moviegoers and thus implying continued solid attendance in movie theaters down the road.” Dergarabedian concluded, “This overall growth is not an anomaly, it’s a long-term trend. And this trend is going to continue since going out to the movies remains a singular, viable and integral part today’s entertainment diet while at the same time serves the very human desire to enjoy the communal and immersive experience of the movie theater itself.”
The 2016/17 movie season truly has something for everyone, with great new film slates from established and emerging studios alike. NCM showcased content from several highly-anticipated movies throughout its presentation, including Warner Bros. Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them, which brings the wizarding world of Harry Potter to North America; The Edge of Seventeen, a wry coming-of-age comedy from STX with a refreshingly authentic voice introduced by Hailee Steinfield; Walt Disney Studios’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, about resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star; Marvel’s Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the sorcerer supreme; Bad Moms a new comedy from STX and the writers of The Hangover, and Rings, the third film of Paramount’s Ring horror series. There was also a very special sneak peek from The Walt Disney Studios VP, Cinema Partnerships, David Sieden, featuring the long-awaited sequel Finding Dory, which takes moviegoers back to the extraordinary underwater world of Finding Nemo after 13 years; and Moana, the animated tale of an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people.
Marks added, “Film planning has really changed in recent years, and the studios have recognized the need to spread out major releases throughout the year. There’s still a myth out there that only summer and holiday movies deliver big audiences, but NCM’s 1st Quarter 2016 Millennial audience was 97% of our 4th Quarter attendance — nearly identical — which just goes to prove that cinema is a year-round advertising solution for brands.”
“NCM is the connector between brands and movie audiences,” NCM Chief Revenue Officer Bennett Fogel told the upfront crowd. “This statement defines our commitment to not only help you make that valuable connection, but to do so in more effective and efficient ways than anyone ever thought possible. As part of our transformation into a state-of-the-art premium video platform, we have developed a completely new inventory management system and are launching the first ever Data Management Platform for a cinema network with the Nielsen Marketing Cloud.”
Fogel then went on to introduce the new and exciting ways that America’s Movie Network is bringing cinema advertising into today’s world of enhanced targeting and big data:
- Effective this upfront cycle, with the full rollout of NCM’s Cinema Audience Targeting Optimizer (CATO), advertisers to go beyond targeting by MPAA rating (G/PG, PG13 and R) to build media schedules at the film and genre level. NCM can now more effectively target a brand’s key audience by matching it to the movie titles and/or genres that can best deliver that audience in a given campaign schedule.
- To further enhance the connection between brands and movie audiences, NCM will also be filtering media schedules through its newNielsen Marketing Cloud Data Management Platform (DMP). NCM’s DMP will house thousands of first-, second- and third-party consumer data sets, including rich moviegoer data derived from loyalty programs, mobile panels, beacon networks and credit card purchases. NCM’s partnership with the Nielsen Marketing Cloud DMP — the first of its kind in the cinema industry — will allow it to offer transaction-based insights, better targeted campaigns, and closed-loop ROI.
- NCM’s Cinema Accelerator identifies moviegoers’ mobile devices as they enter a theater, and re-engages them with a brand’s messages wherever they are consuming content — on mobile, social, or online. This additional digital touchpoint provides an ideal way to leverage a big screen ad with small screen activations to drive traffic and transactions.
Fogel concluded, “Aside from all of the predictive data that we can provide on the front end, quantifying business lift is the key ROI metric that we are all being held accountable for today. Our physical locations give us the unique ability to track audiences from our theaters to your businesses. By working with geo-location based research companies, we have partnered with clients to conduct dozens of studies in the retail, QSR, and CPG categories. The results have been consistent, and almost startling, in terms of incremental traffic and sales lift!”
CEO Andy England perhaps best summed up NCM’s upfront message when he said, “Huge Millennial reach and the best video content aren’t enough. Giving you the important data to help your brand reach and target the audience you need; while finding new ways for you to connect with the audience before, during and after the movies — that will be the next generation of cinema advertising. NCM will put your brand in front of a huge Millennial audience watching the best content available, and support you with data and digital marketing. Welcome to the movies.”