Lights, Camera, Ads: Performance Advertisers See Revenue Gains From Cinema Ads

Burger King and boosted audience via NCM’s cinema ads

Mark your calendar for Mediaweek, October 29-30 in New York City. We’ll unpack the biggest shifts shaping the future of media—from tv to retail media to tech—and how marketers can prep to stay ahead. Register with early-bird rates before sale ends!

The trend of using cinema ads as a performance marketing channel is gaining traction among advertisers, especially for brands like and Burger King, driving revenue and new audiences.  

According to data and analytics company World Advertising Research Center (WARC), the cinema advertising sector is anticipated to surpass the investment levels recorded in 2019 this year. Brands are expected to allocate $3.8 billion globally for cinema advertising, marking a 5.5% year-on-year increase and more than the $3.7 billion invested in the year leading up to the pandemic.

“[Cinema] reaches a national audience in a non-skippable ad environment,” said Steve Flores, senior manager, culture and partnerships at Burger King. “[This] provides an opportunity to drive awareness and consideration at the top of mind after leaving a theater.”

Job site saw a boost in its lower funnel performance and subsequent revenue growth through its advertising partnership with National CineMedia (NCM) for in-cinema ads.

The company aired a 30-second ad featuring a QR code that directed viewers to a landing page offering three distinct call-to-actions: job searches, salary advice and career guidance.

So far, has seen thousands of scans of the QR code, resulting in an 8% increase in engagement on its landing page, according to the company.

“Previously, 50% of our landing page engagements would go to job search,” said Shaun Farrar, senior director, global media, at “Now it’s upwards of 80%-90%.”

NCM, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy just last month following a financial restructuring that effectively erased approximately $1.2 billion in debt, introduced programmatic ads to cinemas in early August, reported by AdExchanger.

Simultaneously, the increasingly fragmented media landscape has heightened the demand for brand ROI, prompting advertisers to prioritize attention metrics in their media planning and buying strategies. One study by Lumen and NCM indicates that cinema is emerging as a top video platform for brands, delivering attention metrics that are between four and seven times higher compared to linear TV, CTV, social media and digital platforms.

An uptick in website visitors first tested NCM’s in-cinema ads in the third quarter of last year and sporadically ran ads across all three quarters this year whenever its media budgets allowed spend.  

However, being a legacy brand established in 1999 means that most of its current consumers are over 40 years old. To tap into a wider audience, the job site targeted job seekers below the age of 35 years.

To assess campaign success, focused on its business-to-consumer (B2C) operations, looking at success metrics such as website visitors, job application initiations, completion rates, new account registrations and the influx of new resumes.

These metrics were tied to the company’s business-to-business (B2B) operations, which serve as its revenue source.

“Most of those actions, you can associate a revenue from a sales perspective because you can sell a resume [to a company seeking new hires],” said Farrar.

Meanwhile, Burger King’s cinema ads ran across the U.S. and targeted what it calls Zennials (people on the cusp of Gen Z and Millennials) and Zennials parents.

The fast food brand compared the people who viewed the ad to a control group who did not, using a measurement tool to gauge Burger King’s foot traffic. The results indicated a significant increase in foot traffic and led to incremental sales, leading to revenue increases of over seven figures, the company told Adweek.

Winning old and new business

This summer’s blockbuster films Barbie and Oppenheimer surpassed already-stratospheric expectations, signaling a high point since the start of the pandemic.

In parallel, NCM’s data-driven audience platform, NCMx, launched last year, has grown the company’s understanding of its moviegoer audience. This includes more detail about demographics, post-cinema activities, spending patterns, preferred engagement periods and the optimal attribution windows across a wide range of categories.

This lets new brand categories, such as pharmaceuticals, bolster upper-funnel messaging as well as target diagnosed audiences with highly relevant messages, according to Manu Singh, svp insights, analytics, and data sales strategy, NCM.

“We used those insights to build data products around it, such as QR codes,” she said.

These strategic investments, combined with an audience scale exceeding 10 million moviegoers, have let NCM score repeat business with clients and win new accounts, but it wouldn’t share specifics.

“We are not your legacy media anymore,” said Singh. “We are doing everything that any other data-driven entity would do.”