"Increasingly, marketers and media planners are talking about screen neutrality and seeking to associate their advertising with premium video content on screens that assure the greatest viewability. They are looking to blend cost efficiencies with measurable brand engagement, narrative storytelling and interactive opportunities," points out John (JP) Partilla, CEO of Screenvision Media, who joined the company last year and has infused it with a spirit of innovation and creativity. "We have a lot of focus and dedication around creating a connected cinema offering," he says. "We are extending the opportunity to entertain, inform and engage customers before and after films, as well as maximizing the in-theater and screen offerings. We call it The Connected Cinema Journey.
"We are in the business of end-to-end cinema advertising," Partilla continues. "When you think end-to-end, the big screen is the main event, the core offering. There are other offerings throughout the journey, which begins when they engage online, read about films in production, read reviews, purchase tickets, enter the lobby, absorb an interactive lobby network, watch trailers in the lobby, respond to ads and receive discounts for dinner following show, etc." He reports that Screenvision is working on opportunities for consumers to check in at movies, find friends and earn loyalty points. "A member's phone can be activated, with their permission, as they enter the cinema and they can be asked a couple questions, be offered in-theater promotions, post-theater benefits and coupons," he explains. The company is also developing in-theater gaming and plans to test "Shop the Movie" in the second quarter. When film-goers exit the theater they will receive a message offering merchandise such as the film soundtrack, T-shirts and hoodies, sunglasses, discount booking on a vacation related to film and other e-commerce opportunities. "We've never taken advantage of impulse purchase opportunities as they do at museums, tourist gift shops, etc.," Partilla points out.
Partilla's industry leadership dates back to the mid-1980s when he served as Executive Vice President of Young & Rubicam. His work in branding innovation at Y&R led him to the presidency of the Global Media Group at Time Warner where he was responsible, along with Mark D'Arcy (now at Facebook) for expanding one of the media industry's most successful integrated cross-platform marketing initiatives. Following stints as President of Global Media Sales for Clear Channel Communications and COO for Dentsu West, he joined Olson Advertising in Minneapolis as CEO and joined ICF International as Executive Vice President after its acquisition of Olson.
He joined Screenvision following its unsuccessful merger attempt with National Cinemedia, and while the two companies now compete they both see a positive future as independent media and marketing companies. (See my interview with NCM CEO Andy England here.) "There is a lot of talk about art and science being blended to achieve marketers' objectives," Partilla comments. "The challenge with science alone is that it lends itself toward efficiency of buying reach and scale, which are wonderful contributions to a marketer's ambitions. The inherent challenge is that everyone can buy Facebook or Google and use programmatic buying and optimizers. It's hard to win on that side of the ledger. While they are important to the mix, the best way marketers can advantage themselves is through the power of great ideas, the impact of storytelling and high engagement. We provide a superior platform to help marketers achieve that. I appreciate the scientific advantages available, but it's hard to win just through science."
Partilla believes the Connected Cinema Journey enables Screenvision to "encroach on both sides of the fairway as a complement to both the broadcast/cable and digital video buy. Never before have we been in a culture in which so little attention is being paid to advertising. We are the best solution for reaching a distracted generation. Movie-goers may still have personal devices, but the combination of a 40-foot screen, a darkened room, and quiet surroundings brings on a mind-shift. To highlight this point, Screenvision is investing in new research studies focused on defining what Partilla refers to as "the unique power of a mind-set shift."
"The sun is rising on us," Partilla exclaims. "Never before has there been greater willingness for marketers to listen to our offerings and consider cinema as an interchangeable premium video solution. They are looking to dial up the storytelling and art side of the equation. We will be exploring more technology and digital initiatives that make the most of the Connected Cinema Journey. As marketers and agencies lean into art, cinema lends itself to storytelling more than any other platform.