/ 22 August 2021

Digital advertising spend is better bang for buck

A visit to the cinema in a pandemic reveals that there aren’t any audiences to watch the ads

Yesterday, I took my children to a movie – Space Jam: A New Legacy, the new Looney Tunes starring LeBron James. It really was a fantastic movie and we had a great time.

I went with my 12-year-old, 10-year-old and six-year-old and we got there early, as we always do, to watch the trailers. 

There were a few adverts in between the trailers. All of them were big budget ads that obviously cost a lot to produce. 

The quality of the ads were fantastic. There is nothing like a big screen to immerse oneself in the production value. They certainly grabbed my attention, partly because I had nothing else to do but watch them.

But here’s the sad part — we were the only people in the movie!

In the “olden days”, it made sense for movie houses to charge high advertising costs. Cinemas were packed, foot traffic was heavy, and the cost-per-view justified the fees.

Years ago, I met one of South Africa’s “Mad Men” — an ad-world genius who created the iconic tobacco ads we loved in the 1980s. Do you remember those ads? Full of beautiful people loving life, hanging out on boats and skiing.

Tobacco companies made a fortune from those ads. And so did the cinemas. In fact CINEmark estimated that they would lose in excess of R20-million a year in 1998 with the introduction of the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act.

But that was then. Cinemas in 2021 are struggling.

Even before Covid-19 came and hammered in the final nail, people were already streaming movies and series at home through Netflix, Showmax and the other endless array of options.

Have you been to a movie since Covid-19 started?

Lockdowns have bludgeoned the cinema’s ability to operate at a constant rate. People are afraid to be out in public and the occupancy levels themselves are restricted thanks to laws regarding social distancing. 

So, why are brands still advertising in cinemas?

In 2021, there’s a better option.

Advertising on a digital platform is so much cheaper and more effective than advertising in a cinema, or most other forms of traditional advertising, for that matter.

With the ability to choose a cost-per-view mode or cost-per-click model, you’re guaranteed to only pay when people interact with your ads.

Another massive advantage of digital marketing is transparency. You can track who’s seeing or clicking on your ads, for how long, where they are and how many leads you’re generating.

Stats show that South Africans are spending more and more time on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. It’s quick, easy and affordable to advertise on these channels and there is no long-term commitment. 

I’m not saying traditional media is unnecessary. Far from that. I’m just pointing out that it makes sense to advertise in the smartest way possible. 

And in 2021, that’s digital advertising.