Do young adults still feel a powerful connection with cinema in this age of social media and constant multi-screening? DCM tasked us with finding out.

In the UK, 16-34-year-olds account for almost half of all cinema tickets sold each year and watch an average of eight big-screen movies every 12 months. With a share of over 80% of the cinema advertising market, DCM has a substantial investment riding on its hypothesis that the big-screen experience continues to carry so much meaning for this audience, so we looked to delve deeper into why this should be the case.

We partnered with cultural anthropologist Dr John Curran to analyse and interpret the movie-going experience through the lens of the 16-34 age group. To first map out the patterns of AV consumption we asked our audience to complete a media diary detailing all the videos they saw over a typical week. During the week we also sent them on a cinema trip with a friend, where they completed an auto-ethnographic record of how they felt throughout the visit, and we then rounded off the study by hosting a live ‘cinema night’ with respondents and their friends, watching a cinema ad reel in full glory on the big screen before heading straight into group discussions with the experience fresh in their minds.

To back up this rich, textured exploration we also surveyed 1,000 16-34-year-olds to understand their attitudes to cinema and other AV media and drew on our extensive advertising effectiveness database, compiling a meta-analysis of cinema advertising effectiveness studies.

“DCM benefits from a compelling story that shows advertisers the power of cinema to do what no other format can.”

What we divined from all this is that the cinema visit is full of ‘rituals’ which are quite distinct from everyday life: loading up on popcorn, sitting in the dark with phones off and focusing intently on an immersive experience for hours with no break in concentration. Our audience esteem it as a form of mindfulness, which offers brands a remarkable opportunity – in fact 66% of our sample said they paid more attention to ads in the cinema than elsewhere, and this rose to 72% for advertising avoiders (people who’ve downloaded an ad-blocker), showing that cinema advertising has the power to reach even the most resistant young adults. DCM benefits from a compelling story that shows advertisers the power of cinema to do what no other format can – a story which subsequently gained even more leverage as the British Box Office recorded its best year since 1970.

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