The Evolution of Cinema Advertising

Category: Cinema Advertising

Estimated time:  50 minutes


Cinema or film advertising is yet another medium of publicity characterized by sound, motion, color and vision to tell stories on a large silver screen. This audio-visual medium has a wide range starting from ordinary slide presentation to film screening.

Effective movie theater advertising can also include one-on-one promotions, partnering with events or sponsorships and can be conducted at the venues themselves, with marketing teams promoting a variety of products to consumers as they are waiting in line or approaching the theater.


Screen publicity is liked by people of all ages, sex, profession, political affiliations and income groups because it has the appeal of life-size presentation. It was the most popular form of advertising until the advent of home televisions and the onslaught of mobile video. There businesses are continuing to advertise at the cinema even in this day and age. One of the reasons is that you have an audience that cannot fast forward through your advertisement. The advertisements are on a repeating cycle for a while before the movie theater starts to play the movie. Cinema provides an already captive audience for your brand message. Cinema advertising may change its shape and form, but it remains relevant even today as an advertising medium.  By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of cinema advertisements
  • Compare the scenario of cinema advertisement in past and present times
  • Understand the evolution of cinema ads


  • Evolution of Cinema Ads
  • Leveraging cinema advertising in modern times


Understand the importance of cinema advertisements


Effective movie theater advertising can include one-on-one promotions, partnering with events or sponsorships and can be conducted at the venues themselves, with marketing teams promoting a variety of products to consumers as they are waiting in line or approaching the theater.

The Advantages of Cinema Advertising

  • Cinema advertising delivers your message to a captive audience.
  • On-screen and lobby ads can use full sight, sound and motion to increase ad recall.
  • Frequent repetition of the message ensures that moviegoers see and remember your ad, building brand awareness.
  • Advertiser’s company image is often boosted by the association with the movies on the big screen in full color.
  • Because movie theaters are located near or in suburban shopping malls and other high-profile retail areas, ads are positioned close to point-of-purchase.
  • Campaigns can be targeted by a demographic profile based on the geographic location of the movie theater.


What advice would you give to a marketing intern who says “Cinema advertising is outdated in the digital world.”


Compare the scenario of cinema advertisement in past and present times


Advertising in the cinema hall was done before people had television since people would go to the cinema for entertainment. During the early years of cinema advertising, people would get a chance to see the news on public screens as well. They could see how the war was going and get news from the front lines. Now, people no longer need to go to the cinema early to get their news since most people have access to the news in their pockets.

Advertising at movie theaters is just 0.5% of the total advertising pie, but it is growing at 35-40%. Any multiplex regular would agree that these films-prior-to-the-actual-films have both improved and increased in the past decade.

Effective communication is possible today in ways beyond on-screen ads too. There have been many successful case studies of off-screen activation having worked wonders for brands. One example of this is Cadbury Bournville, which made a strategic alliance with the blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises. As part of the integrated campaign, Bournville conducted a special screening for guests and winners of the digital media campaign.


If you are the head of marketing at a multi-cuisine restaurant,  how will you market your restaurant in a cinema so that you have more and more customers walk in after pre-movie advertisements.


Understand the evolution of cinema ads.


Let us understand the current state of cinema advertising in detail.

Maximum Reach

In-cinema advertising is just 0.5 percent of the total advertising pie, but the reach and impact of this medium are making advertisers sit up and chart its growth. As many a marketer knows, when you are advertising at the movies, you are reaching an audience that wants to be there. This means that the audience is likely to already been looking at the screen. You are not paying extra to get more people, because they are already there. You are not wasting money when you advertise at the movies, because they cannot fast forward through the commercials and your product at least gets an engaged viewing. You can essentially download your advertisement into their brains. They are already paying attention; after all, they paid some good money to be there.

Cost Effective

Rates for advertising cinema theaters depends on the type of cinema screen, cinema location, number of seats and the cinema brand. Cinema advertising cost for multiplex cinema advertising is normally higher than that for single screens. Theaters have a cinema advertising rate card and discounted cinema advertising rates are also available with cinema advertising agencies. The length of video ads also determines the price for cinema advertising. A complete list of advertising rate card for cinema and best-discounted offer are also available at the cinema planning tools. So by spending a decent amount of money, you can grab the attention of millions of viewers.

Ads that attract millennial

The ads that are shown in the cinema hall are generally based on the type of audience that comes at the theater. The mastermind advertisers will grab the opportunity to attract the right audience by showcasing an ad that directly connects the audience and is relevant to them. Even the government sometimes uses this medium to telecast any message in the subject matter to the audience and their awareness. For example, if a movie is the one that appeals to millennial, then advertisers can leverage that pre-movie spot in order to impact a millennial audience.

Timeline for advertising

The time slot at which cinema advertising has been showcased plays a great role in determining the success of your advertising campaign. There are slots allotted to the ads before a movie begins. An ad that is displayed just before a movie begins will definitely have a large number of viewers as compared to the first ad that was shown.

A premium marketing opportunity

It can be said that cinema is irreplaceable because although there are digital alternatives, people frequently enjoy watching movies in a movie theater. However, whether your campaign is successful or not depends on the type of movie as well as the target audience of the movie. The overall cinema experience can prove to be a strong marketing opportunity.


Design a brand message to be used for curating a design brief for an ad to be displayed in a cinema lobby. Explain your audience, the rationale behind your choice and how you plan to rope in your target audience using the brand message.


List down the limitations you can think of cinema advertising and also the ways in which you think these limitations can be overcome by planning a proper cinema advertising campaign.


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