A Media State of the Union

Have your heard of the “Vogue 73 questions” on Youtube, where famous celebrities take you on a tour of their house while at the same time anwering 73 questions, asked by an off-screen voice? Well, this is exactly like that, but with only 5 questions, not on youtube and without any link to Vogue magazine whatsoever. Oh, and the celebrities are two experienced media professionals, taking you on a tour of their businesses: our very own Kim Temmerman and UM’s Managing Director Nathalie L’Hoir. Enjoy!


With Q1 behind us, can you give us an update on how the year has started for your business? What’s going on at your end in the Wonderful World of Media?


Well, the year got off to a flying start with new local and global clients and some exciting pitches, for both UM and Initiative. 
It’s very interesting to see that digital formats are growing revenue streams  for traditional media owners (TMOs), both in Belgium as in the rest of the world. 
What else is going on, is that we’ve embedded AI in most of our proprietary tools to bring these tools to the next level and make them even more powerful. 
For us, content-wise, Timothée Chalamet is without any doubt the star of Q1. With both Wonka and Dune, he appears in the top two films of the past quarter of 2024. Together accounting for half a million visitors in Q1, corresponding to 1/5 of total reach. And it won’t stop there; Warner Bros Studio has signed a multi-year feature film deal with the actor to collaborate on future projects both as a star and producer. More Chalamet coming our way, it seems. Our Q1 business results in advertising should not be understated either, everyone worked hard to achieve great results. We’re a happy bunch!
Ok, now let’s talk cinema, specifically. What’s your perspective on the medium in general? Past, present, future…
Well, although the actors’ and writers’ strikes may have pushed back (again!) production and release dates for some films, moviegoers will still have plenty of choices in the coming year. 2024 will be a big year for movie sequels.  Dune: Part 2, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire & Kungfu Panda 4 have already been released, but there is much more to come: Kingdom of Planet of the Apes, Bad Boys 4, Inside Out 2, Despicable me 4, Deadpool & Wolverine, Joker: Folie a Deux, Venom: The Last Dance, Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Gladiator 2, Moana 2, Mufasa: The Lion King … I mean, the list is endless. The future is looking good.
I agree, as I mentioned during the Screen Advertising World Association conference earlier this year, the future is bright for cinema! The medium has suffered a lot during the pandemic and was faced with the difficult mission of seducing the audience again. With, like you said, Kim, some big releases being postponed due to delays in production & post-production.
But cinema did it! The 2 summer 2023 blockbusters, Oppenheimer & Barbie, did a great job : together they have attracted 1,6M cinema-goers. Close to 10% of the total admissions in 2023. Not sure we’ll have a Barbenheimer this year, but the cinema audience is back, that’s for sure.
Now, time to be critical. What are the biggest challenges our beloved medium is facing and what are the pitfalls we must avoid?
Well, a few things. First of all, as the smallest of the big media cinema, must continue, more than other media, work to be top-of-mind for advertisers & media agencies. 
Second, coverage build-up in cinema is slow. When advertisers struggle with the right balance between short & long term objective and give more attention to short-term objectives (sales), cinema is not the first media to come up in the ranking of touchpoints to consider. But on the other hand, it is strong at building brands and serves long-term objective. 
Third, and that’s a big challenge, traffic to cinema theatres is fully dependent on studio releases. Which have been impacted by the pandemic & the Hollywood strikes last year. Cinema must consider new ways to generate traffic to theatres (special events : sport, concert, movie saga,… and niche screenings) But I get from Kim that’s already being done at this moment?
And one more challenge: the changing consumer habits. The competition of the streaming platforms is there. As “share of time”. But no Netflix, Prime or HBO serie or movie will bring the experience of entertainment and escapism you have at cinema.
To be perfectly honest, we don’t see streaming services as competition. We haven’t seen any real impact on our visitor number since their arrival. But that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels, you’re absolutely right!
One of the biggest challenges for us is ‘How to get cinema in the AV mediaplan?” We must be able to change the perception that cinema is expensive and is just a cherry on the cake.  Another challenge is the fact that advertisers are pushed into performance marketing, where building the brand like in cinema has the biggest impact on long term & mental availability.
All clear. Now, what can/will we do to tackle these obstacles?
Well, cinema has many strengths. Let’s focus on them. 
Cinema is a strong brand/advertising awareness builder. Working on the upper funnel, which must be well-balanced with the short-term goals of the advertiser,
cinema has to be considered as part of a “Total Video strategy”. 
It’s also important to keep the market’s attention on the fact it’s the perfect story-telling environment. Some iconic brands, such as Coca-Cola, have integrated this since many years with very long formats. The impact is as big as the screen!
Another focus of cinema’s key strength is ATTENTION. In a world where human beings are exposed to roughly 1200 advertising stimuli per day, attention is key and has been a hot topic for months. Ads in cinema garner 3x more attention than TV ads because there is close to no multi-tasking ; the audience is receptive and engaged throughout the entire ad duration and attention is consistent regardless of ad length. As a consequence, cinema is very cost effective if we consider “CPM/Second of Attention”. So yes, even more emphasis on those aspects please, Kim!
Oh, don’t worry, we will ;-) Long Form Creativity will even be the Cinema topic in Cannes this year. But it’s true, it’s a great medium for many reasons, but we definitely need to stay ahead of the game. What the market has shown us, is that expectations of evidence-based decision making are higher than ever. For any brand considering cinema we now offer our Blackbox events to help prove the power of cinema. By testing and learning we will help advertisers to identify and demonstrate cinema effectiveness. Reaching people in a positive and highly focused mindset can really have significant benefits for brands.
Next to these Blackbox events we have a lot of profile and admission data available. These levels of data granularity open up the opportunities for brands to give cinema a try, especially with our new 2024 products: The Missions! Those empower the advertisers to do targeted marketing in cinema. For example: Mission Female, Mission Gamers, Mission +35 etc. We’re still building our data toolkits, but we’ve taken gigantic steps these last few years and we’re seeing the results.
Finally, what are your personal goals for this coming year?
My first goal, as Managing Director of UM, is to contribute to Mediabrands Belgium 2024 goals ! Together with my team and all Mediabrandies working on UM clients, as a collaborative & client-centric work.
My personal goal is also to contribute to the development of our industry. As Mediabrands representative at the UMA Board, as President of the CIM Technical Commission. And also, as a speaker at I.H.E.C.S. to students in Communication Master, to make our Media Agency industry shine and attract the talents of tomorrow. And to have fun doing all this. Every single day.
Well, Brightfish is a real cinema at heart company, so aside from leading my brilliant Sales Team and making sure the market knows we’re here and we’re fabulous, I really need to keep up with my movie knowledge. Actors, directors, movie titles, storylines, I feel the need to immerse myself in them, more than ever.  For our clients, of course ;-)
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