Getting Movie Ads Moving Is No Easy Task

Article excerpt

The movie industry isn't having an Oscar moment. Attendance is down. Teens aren't responding to the silver screen as much as they used to, and adults are lowering their backsides into comfortable home theater seats instead. None of this bodes well for the newspaper industry, which relies on movie ads not only for dollars but for readership.

Across the board, movie advertising represents roughly 14% of the national category, according to the Newspaper Association of America. (The national category makes up roughly 8% of all newspaper ad revenues.) In 2004, movie advertising brought in $1.149 billion in revenue, versus $1.162 billion in 2003.

Not all markets are treated equally by the studios, of course. Los Angeles and New York are affected even by a slight dip, says Mort Goldstrom, vice president of advertising at the NAA. These two markets are designated "AA" by the studios, the highest ranking. This means that a great chunk of marketing dollars are doled out, for example, to the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. The rest of the top 100 markets fall somewhere in the spectrum from "A" on down.

While a 1.1% drop may seem slight, the movie ad landscape has morphed quickly. "The pie has dramatically changed," says Goldstrom. "The percentage of dollars coming from ticket sales and from theaters has gone down while product placement in movies and merchandising and DVD sales, in particular, have dramatically changed the dollars."

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, in 2004 newspapers got 12.8% of the $30 billion spent by MPAA member studios. That's down from 15.6% in 2000.

It doesn't help that Hollywood often looks down on newspapers. "Studios have long viewed them as a necessary evil," says Scott Carmen, senior vice president/ general manager of Movie Marketplace, the movie research arm of Landon Media Group in Los Angeles. Carmen explains that studio executives -- for the moment -- think that the best possible marketing methods involve trailers: "If that's their opinion, they're gravitating toward TV and online."

But newspapers can still show they are players. As Carmen puts it, "Hollywood is begging for an answer to its problems."

The Orlando Sentinel has been hosting as many promotional screenings it can muster, says Kelly Schwencke, a senior multimedia consultant at the paper. "It reflects well on the studios as a convenience to the community. …