Now playing: cinema commercials just for you!

Until some years ago, in-cinema advertising was believed to be in decline. But digitisation and the boom in multiplexes have given the medium the cont

Now playing: cinema commercials just for you!
It is Friday night. Parking lots in multiplexes are full, as they are usually on weekends. Movie buffs are trying hard to find a place for parking. When fans throng multiplexes, can advertisers be far behind? Until some years ago, in-cinema advertising was believed to be in decline, and given only the fourth or fifth preference after television, print, radio, and outdoor advertising. But digitisation and the boom in multiplexes have given the medium new wings to soar.

For instance, thanks to digitisation, operators know that the Friday night show patrons are mostly office-goers. So they can now market the time for some targeted ads. Says Shirish Shrivastava, VP Sales, INOX Leisure, “Morning shows cater the student population; it’s the family audience for afternoon shows; and working people fill up the evening slot. Thus, segmented advertising is possible.”

According to FICCI-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2015, revenues from in-cinema advertising are growing at a steady pace, and were an estimated Rs 490 crore at the end of 2014. The report projects it to reach to Rs 1,382 crore by end-2019.

“The in-cinema advertising industry is growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 25 per cent,” says Shrivastava. The company currently operates 97 properties with 377 screens across 52 cities. From Rs 49.5 crore advertisement revenues in financial year 2013-14, INOX closed the last financial year with Rs 82 crore in advertisement revenues, and enjoys footfalls of around 50 million a year.

“Much effort has been made to educate clients about in-cinema advertising. We don’t use print anymore, and now with the technology, all advertisement links are centrally put in a server and I can monitor them sitting at the head office. If there are four screens, they can run four different advertising content,” he says.

Cinema Advertising is the second-fastest growing medium in the country after digital, though on an extremely small base, says Ajay Mehta, head of Interactive TV, part of the WPP Group. “Its potential is huge. In India, cinema advertising is about one per cent of the total advertisement expenditure, whereas in countries like UK, it is closer to two per cent. Due to the rapid growth of multiplexes and digital screens and the consolidation in the exhibitor space, we expect cinema advertising to keep growing,” says Mehta.

“Last month alone, 7.8 million people watched movies in PVR cinemas across the country. We are seeing 60 million footfalls a year,” said Gautam Dutta, CEO of PVR. With 474 screens and 106 properties across 43 cities, PVR is the largest cinema exhibitor in India.
The consolidated advertisement revenues of PVR in the last financial year were Rs 177 crore.

Multiplex business consolidates

In the first week of this month, Anil Ambani-led Reliance MediaWorks (RMW) completed the sale of its multiplex business to Carnival Cinemas for Rs 700 crore. With this, Carnival became the third-largest multiplex operator next to PVR and INOX. In June this year, Mexico’s Cinépolis launched its Cineplex in Bengaluru’s ETA Namma Mall. With this launch, the operator crossed the 200-screen mark in India. In January this year, Cinepolis fully acquired Essel Group’s Fun Cinemas for an undisclosed sum. Last year, INOX bought 100 per cent equity in New Delhi-based Satyam Cineplexes. PVR acquired the Cinemax properties in 2012 and has bought DT Cinemas as well. These acquisitions are a testament to the growth of the exhibitor industry.

“While China has 26,000 screens, India has only 5,000 to 6,000 watchable screens,” says Shrikant Bhasi, chairman of Carnival Group. The Salman Khan starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan was released in 3,500 screens, and the box office collection was around Rs 400 crore. If there were more screens, the collection would have been huge, he adds.
At present, Carnival operates 360 screens, and will add 100 more in a couple of months. “There are no proper theatres in so many places,” Bhasi says, stressing the need for more theatres.

A whole experience zone

“Digital cinemas have eliminated the role of prints and reduced material costs. This means that a new movie gets released in a large number of cinemas even in smaller towns on the same day as in Delhi or in Mumbai. Earlier, movies would get released in smaller towns with a time lag of weeks, which meant that the hype of the movie was fading and people had watched it from pirated copies,” says Mehta.

“Before, there was a projector room. Now with the advancement in technology, I can digitally transfer advertisements and control 10 to 12 screens through a laptop,” says Bhasi.

“While television provides you the audio and visual experience, in-cinema advertising uses all the senses — smell, touch, taste, sound, and sight. It is like a whole experience zone. For instance, if it is a new cookie, we can provide free samples, if it is a new product, we can set up an experience zone, where audience members can experience it,” explains Shrivastava.

From on-screen advertising, exhibitors now look for off-screen space too. They make use of food and beverage counters, kiosks, lobby floor, corridors or washrooms to display products. With more eyeballs watching cinema, from lump sum deals it is shifting to pay per contract.

“Advertisers do ask what if a movie bombs?  We have this ‘pay for eyeball’ thing. So if 10 people are watching, pay for those 10 people. Now, many luxury brands like BMW, L’Oreal, Lufthansa, and Jaguar have entered the cinema advertising space,” says Dutta.

Depending on the length of the movie, advertisement duration also increases. “Before the movie’s commencement and during intermission, we screen advertisements. If you take the total duration, it will be 18 to 19 minutes. If you make the list of top 500 brands, at some point or the other they would have advertised with PVR. FMCG, two-wheeler, fashion, footwear, electronics, among others fall under large categories,” explains Dutta.

Also, the length of the movie decides the advertisement timings. “Local retailers too advertise. For instance, we see more jewellery commercials in the South,” says Shrivastava.

There can be weekly, six month or one-year deals with clients and cinema advertising is said to be cheaper compared with television. “For 30 seconds, it can be from Rs 3,600 onwards,” says Bhasi.

Interactive is the first company to monitor in-cinema advertising through its proprietary tool CAM (cinema audit and monitoring). “Measurement is important. Advertisers want to know their RoI and need footfall and audience data. We are trying to address this through various tools like CAM,” says Mehta.

Piracy is a huge challenge, he adds. “If piracy can be addressed, cinema advertising would grow at an even faster pace,” Mehta says.

However, Bhasi feels cinema is an experience and it is not only about the story. “Now people know the story and they visit theatres for the big screen movie watching experience,” he says.

Screen for size

Multiplex    No.of cities    Screens
PVR    43    474
INOX    52    377
Carnival    85    360




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