Qube Cinema Network (QCN), the digital advertising division of Real Image, the technology developer and enabler for the entertainment industry and DCI compliant technology company, had recently commissioned The Nielsen Company to conduct a study in Tamil Nadu on the impact of in-cinema advertising.
Marketing consultancy Aqumena Marketing Services helped conceptualise the study to derive a currency to measure the reach and frequency of specific cinema advertising schedules.
The research was conducted on a door to door basis, where 2,774 respondents were selected from the electoral roll list in the state. The research was conducted amongst the active consuming class in Tamil Nadu, in the age group of 15-44 years, belonging to SEC ABC households and living in Class I towns. An array of questions was put forth to the respondents in their homes.
Some of the key findings showed that more than one fourth of this universe visited cinemas once a month or more often. Nearly two thirds went at least once in the previous one year. Another finding showed that cinema's reach is higher in SEC A than in SEC B and C. This up market skew is despite the fact that more than 95 per cent of the screens in Tamil Nadu are not in multiplexes.
A QCN related finding was that more than 75 per cent of the universe had visited at least one QCN theatre in the last one year.
The main objective of the research was to create a currency for cinema media planning and buying similar to currencies that exist for print and TV.
The study focuses on consumers and their cinema going habits in totality, irrespective of whether they go to QCN or other theatres. In fact, it is possible to evaluate cinema plans for all theatres and QCN theatres separately - both options are available to brand managers and media planners. (QCN comprises a national network of nearly 900 digitally enabled cinema screens where it has exclusive advertising rights).
Now - how exactly does this currency work? The QCN currency is designed to measure the value delivered by cinema in a given brand's media plan. The currency focuses on two dimensions: Reach - meaning the number of relevant people who are exposed to the spots in the media schedule, expressed in terms of number of people in lakh (or the equivalent percentage of the population); and Frequency - meaning the number of times those reached have 'opportunities to see' (OTS) the spots.
The media planner specifies (i) the target market for a brand in geographical terms; (ii) the demographic definition of the target group of individuals; and (iii) the duration (in weeks) of the campaign.
The currency works by using the data from the QCN research study, focusing on the recent cinema going behaviour of the specified target group. Using a complex algorithm based on probability models, it estimates the reach and frequency expected among the selected target group for a given cinema schedule for the specified number of weeks.
The currency will help brands through the addition of quality OTS in a media plan and through strategic use of the media multiplier effect of cinema and TV acting in tandem. It will also help estimate the value an advertiser gets in a two-week or four-week burst, and so on.
"The best results in advertising are achieved by using multiple media in tandem. Thus far, press and TV planning were done using scientific currencies, while cinema planning was mainly a gut-feel affair. The launch of the new currency takes the gut-feel out of cinema planning," says Ranganathan.
The data from the research also shows that inclusion of cinema in a media plan can deliver effective reach, perhaps more cost-efficiently than a broad based 'TV only' media plan.
The data has, for the first time, provided the advertising industry with a quantifiable currency using hard numbers to evaluate cinema plans and place the buying and selling of ad time at par with that for press and TV media.
One interesting finding from the research is that cinema's audience shows a more up-market composition compared to TV. This is despite the fact that out of more than 1,000 theatres in Tamil Nadu, there are just five multiplexes (the fifth multiplex opened as recently as April 2010). Apart from multiplexes, the digital revolution has forced theatre owners to upgrade their properties, giving a better overall experience.
While the currency has been launched only in the TN market for now, the company is looking for investors/sponsors to conduct the research in other states as well.