Cinema Connects Community and Powers Local Businesses

By Mary Ellen Holden Screenvision Media Archives

National Small Business Week for 2017 kicks off on April 30, recognizing American small business owners’ contributions to the economy.  Movie theaters have long been a central part of communities nationwide, and they continue to cement their value as a destination frequented by local residents.  With over 2,300 movie theaters, each a small business itself, Screenvision Media has evolved its position within the marketplace from sellers of ads, to champions/evangelists partnering with small businesses to make a lasting impression on the community, all while driving awareness and revenue. This up-close and personal focus on lifestyle and community is as timely as the local marketplace opportunity is huge.

Local Advertising Is Growing

According to BIA/Kelsey, local advertising will approach $150 billion in 2017, and the researcher forecasts continued growth from this sector. With local ad spend in cinema representing a small fraction of the total spend in 2016, the potential upside in revenue is substantial.  The results of a survey conducted by Screenvision Media earlier this month confirmed its belief that cinema audiences care about supporting local business.

Here are a few highlights:

  • 50% of moviegoers like to learn about local businesses
  • 65% of moviegoers agree it’s very important to support the local community; 87% agree it’s somewhat important
  • 43% of moviegoers support their local community by shopping locally

Similarly, in a study targeting media buyers 49% agreed that the most important aspect of cinema advertising is that it is “geographically targeted to the area I want to reach.” Theaters generally draw from less than a 20-mile radius, which means that advertising for local businesses means minimal wasted exposure.

Partnership Builds Local Brands

Screenvision Media is paving the way for community businesses to tap into its marketing engine. This strengthens and builds local brands while concurrently maximizing lead generation.  To make this happen, Screenvision Media adheres to the following tenets to guide its small business initiative and ultimately help drive results.

  • Access: Creating more access and options for small businesses to get to the big screen
  • Education: Explaining how cinema fits into the media mix, and the breadth of advertising options that are offered to local businesses to inform decision-making
  • Innovate and Create Context: Dedicating valuable screen-time for “local” and “regional” messaging to support and elevate the community connection with small business 
  • Consult: Working with small businesses to help address their needs and challenges with custom creative and media solutions

“We enable small businesses to connect with the community at the local theater,” Katy Loria, Chief Revenue Officer of Screenvision Media explained.  “We want these valued advertising partners to leverage our marketing infrastructure, including creative services and technology to develop smart messaging. We believe that the more innovation we provide, such as technology to enable loyalty programs, activations and couponing, the greater the win. This provides audiences with unique insight into their business, strengthens community bonds, and fuels new opportunities through highly visible local calls to action right there on the 40-foot screen.”  

Local Businesses Benefit from Movie Studio Spend

In addition to its Front+Center pre-show supporting and showcasing the community and local businesses, Screenvision Media is providing merchants greater opportunity to be present throughout the movie-going journey.  When you think about it, where else besides the cinema can local and small businesses benefit from the $135 million per week that Hollywood studios and film distributors spend to drive local people to the theater?  From cereal boxes to soda cans to tabloid magazine covers, national brands have had bigger opportunities to access this promotional push.  Cinema, however, is the only medium that allows local advertisers to sit side-by-side with the biggest blockbusters and connect with the community on the big screen. This benefit then extends through online and mobile services, enabling advertisers to be a part of the entire movie-going journey.

“While we all know that local matters and that there are plenty of media options that deliver ‘local’, including Spot TV, we feel that cinema provides unrivaled awareness to support an overall media plan,” said Cheryl Magiros, Executive Vice President Local Sales. “While a good portion of our advertisers seek programs that extend from six months to a year, we are increasingly seeing more opportunistic shorter term spot buys.  We have strong renewals and firmly believe that repetition on screen promotes reputation.”      

“The biggest challenge for small businesses is getting face-to-face meetings – testimonials generate the most leads,” said Carol Terakawa, Senior Vice President Inside Sales. “We also generate in-theater leads through Strata and support our advertisers with LinkedIn Sales Navigator to generate brand awareness. We create opportunities for every budget and every approach.”  Among her efforts to expand the in-theater experience, Terakawa has worked to develop high quality corner stories (short documentary style profiles of local businesses, as pictured at top), video testimonials and lead generation technology.

Looking back, moviegoers are often small business owners who may also support family businesses.  Cinema advertising reaches them both as a consumer and a potential advertiser. While sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to begin, they listen to, watch and respond to ads from other small businesses.  As we approach National Small Business Week, perhaps there is no more compelling proof point than that.

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