Screenvision’s Upfront Deals Move Faster Thanks To Geo-Targeted Offerings

Cinema advertising’s “primetime” is the summer movie season, and the SITO-powered Project Lynx is attracting ad spending right now.

Screenvision's John McCauley
Screenvision’s John McCauley

It’s hardly a coincidence that movie theater patrons are told to silence their smartphones right after the advertising is shown on the screen. In fact, Screenvision is counting on moviegoers being active on their smartphones — at least right before and after the actual film they go to see is shown — to better geo-target them.

Screenvision, one of the two national cinema ad networks that supply TV-like commercials to over 2,000 multiplexes, unveiled its partnership with geo-data manager SITO Mobile on the location ad-based “Project Lynx” at its Upfront presentation earlier this month.

According to John McCauley, Screenvision’s EVP, CMO for Strategic Alliances, Project Lynx is already having an impact on the executives’ Upfront media planning proposals for movie theater ads, even before the full rollout of the program this fall.

GeoMarketing: What is Screenvision’s ad strategy going into this year’s Upfront? And how does Project Lynx fit into that plan?

The company’s overall strategy and message this year, given the backdrop of the continuing fragmentation of all media, was to reinforce the impact that cinema’s making. A big part of our presentation was underscoring and reminding people of the scale that we provide impacts audiences every day and every week.

The second part of that strategy involved looking ahead and listening to what the marketplace was responding to — determining what technologies and needs were starting to emerge.

So we wanted to tap into that while thinking about defining our audience and deciding about how to best deliver them to advertisers and media buyers.

The people that we bring to marketers are a very highly-coveted audience. They’re elusive. They’re decisive. They’re cast as moviegoers in our environment, but they are cord-cutters, ad-skippers, and TV viewers, just viewing content on their time. But in our environment, we have them.

That’s a very fundamental thing for Screenvision. And our position frees us, to a certain extent, to think differently about data and the opportunities to provide value to our advertisers; we wanted to get smarter about that.

Is that where Project Lynx comes in?

Project Lynx was launched with the question of, “How can we use existing technology— existing databases — to get smarter when it comes to delivering ads to the moviegoer audiences?”

We wanted to be able to provide more insights, more behavioral data about the moviegoer that informs, educates, and offers a richer set of information to our existing advertisers and to a broader set of marketers. We hoped to inspire them to say to us, “Hey, you know what? You guys are pretty smart about the various ways to reach movie-goers as an audience segment. You’re on top of it. We’re in. You brought us into the loop a little bit.” And that’s something we have been hearing during this Upfront season.

How do you convey that the cineplex — as opposed to a individual smartphone or a PC or tablet — can be the center of what sounds like a media plan more often associated with purely digital platforms like mobile or social?

We have — through existing channel data and historical information — a way of creating greater efficiency in targeting. It’s beyond targeting by PG-13 and R. We have the ability to look and say, “In the past, you tried targeting 18 to 34-year old women. The best you might have gotten was people who saw a PG-13. Now we’re going to create a suite of programming that best aligns with 18 to 34-year old women.”

This data collection that we’re embarking on through Project Lynx will enable us to be even more refined in our targeting, maybe based on location, as well as based on movies. We’ll simply have better information on moviegoers as niche audience segments.

It’s only been about two weeks since Project Lynx was unveiled. And Upfront negotiations are still going on for most agencies. How soon do you expect to rollout ad programs built on that system?

It’s definitely an Upfront opportunity. We would hope that, as we go through the upfront period, we would come out the other end starting at the broadcast season at in Q3 or Q4.

But because cinema’s biggest months are right in front of us for the summer blockbuster season right after the Upfront, Project Lynx is already helping to accelerate the scatter market for us. We experienced a similar kind of immediacy last year when we previewed the partnership with SoundHound last year.

In addition, this year we’re holding content platforms for upfront advertisers to take advantage of being participants in a recently announced initiative called “Front and Center On,” but we also re-invigorated our branded content solutions group, 40 Foot Solutions, and we’re making five productions right now. We certainly enjoy the double-dip that occurs.

Cinema advertising has achieved a true renaissance in recent years with the heating up of the box office, digital distribution, and the offerings that we’re making. We’re becoming more sophisticated, maybe, adopting across all categories. Now, to be participating in, probably, one of the hottest conversations in media is pretty exciting.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.