NCM's Andy England: "Limiting Our Perspective to Cinema is Just That -- Limiting"

"Advertising agencies and media people overestimate the time senior marketing executives think about media," Andy (pictured at top) points out. "At the end of the day, media companies are focused on driving utilization and cost-per-thousand. Marketers care about reaching consumers, persuading consumers, changing consumer behavior, doing things differently, and driving ROI … and the average CMO only has two years to do it all.

"Their job is to sell more products and drive more profitability, and media is just one tool in their tool box," he continues. "They are trying to drive change in their business, and a decision about whether or not to invest media dollars in one network or another is definitely not the most important decision they'll make." As Andy transitioned to NCM, he came with the mindset of being a solutions provider. "Because I know what marketers are looking for, my focus has been on finding even better ways to meet those needs and delivering real solutions to NCM's marketing partners," he explains.

"If you read the ad trades, I challenge you to find an article about a program that had extraordinary impact on ROI," he says. "But that's what marketers are focused on. The pressure on driving ROI and driving down the expense line is extraordinary. After spending almost ten years trying to reach Millennials and looking for those audiences, I found them at NCM. Our exhibitors are making investments in their theaters and focusing on delivering a better movie-going experience, and we're focused on creating better ROI opportunities for marketers."

Under Andy's leadership, NCM will be expanding its digital offerings to continue to drive growth. "NCM is a jewel, and the trick is how we shine the jewel and make it more beautiful," he explains. "It boils down to being the connector for brands, and digital is key. Limiting our perspective to cinema is just that -- limiting. While the pre-show is the core driver of our business, opportunity lies in becoming more relevant and engaging for movie audiences beyond the big screen, and therefore improving our value to advertisers. We currently have a fledgling digital business, and we are expanding it to be able to offer new and innovative solutions for all of our customers, including theater circuits and affiliates, advertisers and agencies, and the studios themselves.

"There is a reason we speak about movie audiences rather than moviegoers," Andy points out. "Our opportunity is to continue to talk to movie audiences when they are not at the movies, capturing them before and after they attend the film."

NCM has already introduced digital products including its Cinema Accelerator, and is focusing on expanding relationships with a wide range of audience data sources, including loyalty programs, for its new DMP. "The more we know about our audiences -- how they bought their ticket, how they use mobile devices, where they are before and after film -- the more we understand their behavior, the more targeted we can be and the more ROI we can deliver," Andy says.

In addition to focusing on activating cinema audiences for marketers, Andy and his team, led by NCM President Cliff Marks, are also "shining the NCM jewel" by focusing on basics. "Our core business is the unique power of the big screen," Andy notes. "The average NCM audience member is 31, and very few networks can say that today. Brands want to reach Millennials, especially the tech titans that we do business with. Cinema is an extraordinary reach vehicle, and with media fragmentation, OTT and video viewing being scattered across small screens, that fact becomes increasingly important. NCM reaches 62% of the movie audience nationwide and 70% in the top 10 DMAs, over 700 million moviegoers annually. And while there have been some questions in the marketplace about the AMC/Carmike transition, it will actually effect less than 2% of our network and we will have already made up for any lost attendance with great new circuit additions like Bow Tie Cinemas in New York, Cinergy in Texas and others.

"Positioning cinema as a year-around opportunity is also a priority," he continues. "When I speak to advertisers, they think cinema is a summer and holiday advertising vehicle. But tent-pole films are now scheduled throughout the year. It's not a seasonal business. Movie audiences in the first-quarter will be 97% of fourth-quarter audiences. We need to do a better job of telling that story.

"There's also a misconception about cinema advertising that it's expensive. But our CPMs have been closing the gap with other premium video offers. The perception of 'expensive' is worth a new look, because research shows that our cost of consumer acquisition for brands almost always ends up being lower than other mediums. For example, we just did a campaign with a leading fast casual restaurant that delivered a return of over $7 in revenue for every dollar invested in cinema advertising with NCM. That's the kind of ROI that CMOs want."

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Jack Myers

Jack Myers, author of The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century, is a recognized cultural visionary, award-winning documentary film producer, advisor to hundreds of leading corporations on media and technology trends, and founder of&n... read more