LONDON: The cost-cutting changes introduced by some cinema chains have angered marketers, who claim they are having an adverse impact on their ability to keep viewers fully immersed in their advertisements.

With traditional ushers rapidly becoming a thing of the past, more cinema chains are reported to be keeping the houselights up during both the ads and the trailers that presage the main show in order to enable customers to find their seats.

Darren Hayday, a marketing consultant at Competitive Edge Marketing, was among the executives concerned by the trend.

"What on earth is the point of a brand manager choosing this medium to target a captive audience when to try and cut costs the cinema chain introduce this process which doesn't benefit anyone other than senior management?" he asked Marketing Week.

His remarks were echoed by a client-side marketer who felt that cinema was "one of the last remaining opportunities for a fully-engaged ad audience, and when you factor in the site-specificity of movie trailers made especially for cinema audiences, [keeping lights up] is doubly concerning."

Another bugbear for marketers is the growing trend towards allocated seating, which they fear will mean more and more viewers arriving later. 

"This means fewer bums on seats at the time when the ads are running," said Mario Yiannacou, media and advertising manager at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA), a trade body.

"The fuss factor of people trying to locate their seat numbers – even with the lights up – makes it even more difficult for advertisers to hold the attention of the audience and keep eyes on screen."

One way around this may be to tap into the predilection for dual-screening, as Digital Cinema Media (DCM), the specialist advertising firm, has done with an app that pushes content to viewers whose phones pick up a sonic message from the cinema screen.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff