Screenvision's Media Attention Study Proves the Value of Cinema as a Must-Buy for Every Video Media Mix

By Screenvision Media InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Screenvision's Media Attention Study Proves the Value of Cinema  as a Must-Buy for Every Video Media Mix

The holy grail of advertising effectiveness is capturing viewer attention and by doing so, facilitating the consumer journey outcome. For Screenvision Media, attention measurement in cinema has resulted in a recently released Media Attention study that offers compelling insights into the effectiveness of ads in the cinema environment and positive advertising outcomes. Jennifer Friedlander, Screenvision's Senior Vice President of Insights and Measurement explained that "We've been laser focused on proving out consumers attention in the cinema space. Since 2023 attention became a buzzword and an emerging metric to measure the quality of an impression."

The Media Attention study had two goals, according to Friedlander. "One was to capture and measure active attention to ads and content in the cinema environment. And two "we wanted to make sure that we had that cinema data available both for ourselves to share with our advertisers and for comparison to other media and also for agencies that are starting to actually plan and optimize against attention data," she shared. "There is increasingly more evidence that attention drives outcomes – across the industry. We have seen this in our own research with proven results on both short-term outcomes such as sales lift to more long-term outcomes such as brand choice and preference."

To that end, Screenvision partnered with Amplified Intelligence on two out of the three study phases, capturing movie goers in the natural cinema environment rather than in a lab. "We recruited movie goers to come to our theaters, pick their films spanning various genres, bring their friends and get their concessions," she explained. Amplified Intelligence then brought DSLR cameras into the venues and placed them on either side of the screen to map facial expressions for over 500 data points that measure attention: active, passive and non-attention on a second-by-second level.

This seamless approach proved, "Undisruptive to the movie going experience. Moviegoers, of course, had to give their consent to be filmed. But most movie goers thought they were being filmed for the duration of the movie and not just the pre-show so everyone was engaged in their normal movie going behaviors," she noted. Moviegoers were tested twice in New York, in April and December, and in Milwaukee in partnership with MAGNA Global.

The biggest takeaway from the study, according to Friedlander, was that cinema delivers the highest active attention of any media platform and twice that of TV. They compared the three market cinema data to TVision data, which, she explained, "is the gold standard of attention measurement on the TV side." This comparison showed that cinema averages an "84% active attention to ads versus TV, or even CTV, where that number is about 30%. That's a difference of 26 seconds of a 30 second ad being actively watched in the cinema environment versus only about 9 or 10 seconds of a 30 second ad being watched on linear or CTV."

And this deep attention is consistent across advertising categories, implying no need for special creative for cinema. "Sometimes people think they need something special to really stand out on screen. We tested a variety of creatives, including TV ads and those made for cinema, on a variety of categories and we did not see significant differences in active attention between ads," she shared. The big takeaway here is that it is the cinema environment is less about the creative and more about the environment and the quality of the placement of the creative to deliver the opportunity for high attention.

Capturing attention for ads from any age cohort is impressive but especially so for younger viewers. A surprising takeaway from the study was that the youngest demographic group had the highest attention scores. "The 18-24 and 18-34 active attention to the ads were even higher than the over 35. That's a demographic that's highly distracted with an attention span of 8 seconds and 88% of them simultaneously use a second screen while watching TV. But I think they really value that time away to check out and immerse themselves in the cinema experience," she marveled. She added that the study showed that younger cinema attendees in the study actually put their phone away during the pre-show. "Is there any other time you can find an 18–24-year-old that chooses to put their phone away?" she posited. "In the cinema environment I think they value that time to really immerse themselves and engage in the experience that they've planned and paid for."

The biggest challenge in measuring attention is standardization of measurement. "There's a variety of companies measuring attention. It could be via camera, via eyeglasses, some are using neuro-technology and so there are nuances in how each company is collecting and interpreting the data," she noted. But she added that the ARF and IAB are focused on providing best practices on advancing measurement beyond legacy metrics and reaching an omnichannel attention metric. For Screenvision, comparing their results to TVision attention and viewability data at home for TV viewing makes the most sense at this time because, "it's a very similar methodology."

When it comes to engagement compared to attention, Friedlander stated that, "Engagement is the mindset of the consumer in the moment that you're reaching them. How leaned in are they? What is their mental availability in that moment?" Within the cinema world, she sees that, since moviegoers have planned and paid to be there, "they've opted into the shared experience with friends and other fans for this completely undistracted experience." Jen points out "that's the height of engagement; it's an ideal mix of social, passion, emotion, premium content, anticipation. All of those factors culminate in delivering the most attentive audience. Engagement drives attention, and engagement is really about the mindset of the consumer and that moment that you're reaching them."

The next steps in this journey focus on educating the industry on how to use attention metrics and how optimizing for attention can yield better outcomes. Jen shares, "it's about connecting the dots between attention and outcomes, and Screenvision's commitment to delivering on any brand's KPI's from sales lift, foot traffic, and so much more."

For Friedlander, the Attention research supports that cinema delivers the most attentive audience of any video platform. Combined with the most premium content and most highly desirable audiences, cinema has emerged as an essential part of the media mix. Screenvision's study confirms the long-held belief that cinema represents a compelling complement to any media plan and is a core contributor to the media mix goals of every advertiser. She said, "moviegoers are the most passionate content fans but also the hardest to reach. They are younger compared to linear TV which has approximately 80% of their primetime audience over age 50. The majority of our audience, about 80%, is under age 50."

She added that cinema also reaches an audience that doesn't watch linear TV because they are cord cutters and cord 'nevers'. "Cinema provides incrementality, reaching a young demo in a highly efficient way and one that you can't reach elsewhere. We call them the 'Elusives' because they truly are elusive and unreachable to advertising. Screenvision provides brands an amazing opportunity to connect with a highly desirable and attentive audience on the largest screen in the world, in a moment that matters to them," she concluded.

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