After a Failed Merger, Cinema Advertiser Screenvision Plots a Solo Course Forward

Announces new initiatives to help advertisers target moviegoers

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Truth be told, Screenvision wasn't expecting to be a part of this year's upfronts.

Last May, the national cinema advertiser announced it was going to be acquired by National CineMedia in a $375 million cash-and-stock deal. But, the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division intervened—it filed suit in November to block the merger, citing antitrust concerns—and the two companies abandoned merger plans in March.

That left Screenvision to go it alone, and the company gamely obliged during Thursday's upfront presentation at Manhattan's Skylight at Moynihan Station, unveiling new strategies to help its advertisers target moviegoers. 

"We're all the way back to fully-staffed," said CEO Travis Reid. "The marketplace is really embracing Screenvision back in full action."

The company highlighted the "maximum impact" of targeting advertising to rapt movie audiences on a 40-foot movie screen. "We won't say 'impact' enough tonight," vowed John McCauley, CMO and evp of strategic alliances.

"Impact is the new currency, and Screenvision has the right audience, environment, platform and content to provide the highest impact brand messaging in the industry," said Katy Loria, evp of national advertising sales.

Screenvision's big upfront announcement was Project Lynx, its data and insights initiative to improve audience targeting. Project Lynx will integrate behavioral and purchase data from a third-party research company, as well as SITO Mobile, which will use geo-fencing mobile data management to collect information on moviegoers.

"We will be able to retarget and find consumers after they've left the theater" via their mobile devices, said Loria, who added, "We have evolved our targeting beyond age and gender and demo."

The company also introduced Front & Center ON, a new preshow platform it is offering exclusively to upfront advertisers beginning June 1. These advertisers "will have the most illuminated position in our preshow," McCauley said. 

Yet, Screenvision's most compelling upfronts pitch was its peek at the 2015-2016 box office slate, brimming with potential blockbusters that will be luring audiences well into next year. 

"Q4 is going to be huge," thanks to eagerly-anticipated films like Spectre (the new James Bond film), the final Hunger Games movie and, of course, Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. "We expect 2015 to be the first $11 billion box office year and 2016 to be even better," thanks to movies like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War.

Execs also highlighted film's advantages over TV in an increasingly fragmented environment. "We have no viewability issues" like TV does, with time-shifted viewing or a consumer's ability to skip past ads, said Loria. "Our audience sees 100 percent of the ads 100 percent of the time."

As part of the "Get Into the Movies"-themed upfront, Screenvision erected three working movie production sets and invited advertisers and buyers to interact with the cast and crew "filming" at each of them.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.