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Big Screen Dollars, Little Screen Marketing

2 minute read | February 2015

When it comes to generating buzz for new movies, trailers and TV commercials remain king. According to Nielsen’s 2014 Moviegoing Report, movie previews and TV spots are the top two ways Americans get their movie info, regardless of age or the ever-expanding list of devices and platforms competing for people’s attention.

Although the number of moviegoers who said they heard or learned about upcoming movies via TV programming—including commercials, talk shows and review shows—has gradually declined over the past few years (67% of moviegoers in 2014 compared with 81% in 2008), TV’s viability as a key advertising medium remains solidly intact. Consider this: In third-quarter 2014, Americans spent more than 141 hours per month, on average, watching traditional TV, significantly more time than they spent watching video online or on mobile devices. Furthermore, 33% of moviegoers report paying attention to ads in general while watching TV, and 53% said they pay attention to movie ads during commercial breaks.

But advertisers shouldn’t dismiss the influence of digital or mobile devices.

Although ads via social media or mobile apps aren’t yet as strong a source as TV or trailers for movie awareness, digital is still a vital component of the movie marketing mix. For instance, moviegoers said that if they notice an online ad for a movie they’re interested in, 75% would click on the ad, and 81% would search for more information about the movie.

Similarly, ads on social networks, when noticed, also sway moviegoers to take action. Moviegoers said they searched for more info about a movie (37%), clicked on the ad (25%), liked or followed the official movie account (22%), and reposted/reTweeted/shared the ad (10%).

Advertisers looking to maximize their dollars should note that some moviegoers wait until they’re at the theater to decide what movie to see. In fact, 45% of spontaneous moviegoers use their mobile phone to watch trailers at the theater and 60% said they’re influenced by in-theater advertising.


The Nielsen Moviegoing Report is a consumer research study that was conducted primarily online, with an in-person augment to reach Spanish-dominant Hispanics. The study was conducted in September 2014 and gathered feedback from over 4,100 people living in the U.S. aged 12 to 74 years old and from 450 children aged 6 to 11 (who were invited to participate in the survey through their parents and completed the questionnaire with parental supervision).

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