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Author Topic: Arbitron Cinema Study
Greg Pauley
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 173
From: Huntington, WV, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

 - posted 06-01-2003 11:29 AM      Profile for Greg Pauley   Author's Homepage   Email Greg Pauley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just saw this in some NATO material "The Arbitron Cinema Advertising Study" can be downloaded at

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10702
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001

 - posted 06-01-2003 01:28 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the respondents to Arbitron's survey were just telling them what they wanted to hear. It's either that or Arbitron's survey questions were decidedly vague for convenience of spinning data results(a very common thing to many marketing surveys).

Movie customers like watching a certain number of movie trailers for upcoming films. If the theater circuits policy trailers are well done they're not seen as an intrusion either. People seem to be entertained by the sound format trailers too.

But that's where it stops. If Arbitron is going to claim younger people like watching tv commerials added to the front of their film presentations then they are just plain full of [bs] .

I realize movie theater operations need new sources of revenue to cover losses from crappy film product with extrememly short lifespans and grossly unfair contracts from distributors. But if regular product advertising is to be done on the front of a movie it really needs to be limited. I don't want to see 5 minutes worth of TV commercials. And the few commercials that do air need to be designed for showing in a theater. Too many are very obviously taken from a video source.

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John Hawkinson
Film God

Posts: 2273
From: Cambridge, MA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 06-01-2003 01:40 PM      Profile for John Hawkinson   Author's Homepage   Email John Hawkinson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the key to understanding the survey is understanding that they compare pre-show advertising to Internet advertising, or even television advertising, and they do no distinguish between slides and MP advertising.

At least around here, you need to show up ahead of the start time of the actual feature if you want to get a good seat, so that is expected. People tend to come to movies in groups (or if by myself, I bring a book or a magzine), and there is plenty to occupy oneself during the ads. Not so when you compare it to Internet advertising, e.g. pop up windows, that actively inhibits you from accomplishing your goal. Or even television advertising, which has the nerve to interrupt the feature. At least advertising at movies does not do any of these things.

So I can see easily how a consumer will mark down movie advertising as the least of 3 evils. I might even agree, as I sit in a theatre talking to friends, waiting for the trailers to start.

And again, my reading of the survey report is that they made no attempt to distinguish between slides and MP advertising. I think everyone has accepted that slids are fundamentally ignorable, and really no big deal...


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Joshua Tefay
Film Handler

Posts: 10
From: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Registered: May 2003

 - posted 06-02-2003 05:32 AM      Profile for Joshua Tefay   Email Joshua Tefay   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
American cinema audiences regard advertising before movies as more interesting than ads seen on television and more acceptable than ads on the internet
The increasing on-screen advertising in theatres worldwide has been a popular topic of discussion on this foum so im not going to do it to death. This being said, i think the bottom line is that we have to learn to live with it because the ads aren't going away!

In Australia, pre-feature "head program" has been the norm for some time now and at our theatre, it follows this structure: ~5mins of slides, 1 trailer, ~6mins of film ads, 2-3 more trailers and then the feature. This means that the film doesn't start until about 20 minutes after its advertised session time.

Most of our patrons accept this, so they can choose to come early and get a good seat, or they can risk it and arrive right as the film is going to feature.

One benefit of having such a delay means more time for your bored patrons to go stock up on popcorn, drinks and candy [Big Grin]

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1395
From: Oakland, CA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 06-02-2003 05:48 AM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
all this research was done by phone questionnaires, not actual legwork. so instead of, say, actually clocking the time that a sample of patrons stood in a concession line, they just asked them to recall up to 3 months after the fact. even if they'd asked the same day the subjective response would be pretty useless.

then there are several results like this:

More than one out of four teens and almost one out of four men remembered video programming in the lobby of the theater. Keeping in mind that not all theaters have video in the lobby, if the actual percentage of theaters with video in the lobby could be used as a base, the awareness rate would be substantially higher.
to paraphrase, "we didn't approach the question correctly, so we will draw a conclusion out of thin air."

this sort of sloppy research pervades the study. note that in the introduction is says "This study is Arbitron's gift to the cinema industry, provided free of charge...." yeah right. clearly, arbitron is just trying to drum up business by telling its clientele -- advertisers -- what it wants to hear.


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