‘Not every impression, CPM, or screen is created equal’ says Val Morgan MD with 52% of 2023 audience predicted between 14-39

For brands seeking young, culturally diverse or premium audiences, cinema is a proven demo-reacher, according to Val Morgan’s managing director, Guy Burbidge.

With the category’s strength in attention metrics garnering attention in its own right, the company’s new box office figures this week suggested 14-39s are forecasted to account for over 52% of all admissions this year. The figure was released via CineTAM, Val Morgan’s audience measurement platform which combines cinema ticket sales and loyalty transaction data.

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close

This also comes in a week where the latest SMI figures for February showed a year-on-year decline across most categories, yet cinema spend was up 41.1%, proving footfall is well and truly back to the big screen.

For specific titles, John Wick: Chapter 4 has delivered over 680,000 admissions since its release late last month, with 66% of the total audience falling within the 18-39s.

Asked about the advantage cinema has in talking to younger audiences, Burbidge said that compared to other formats, its more of a cultural event.

“[Young people] don’t want to spend an awful lot of time in the house. We see them as light linear TV viewers, and we see a very complementary nature between streaming content and going to the cinema,” he said.

“When we think about the role we play with other channels in targeting this audience, we do deliver something that’s fairly unique and group-based rather than something individualised in a digital sense.

With Easter break and the school holiday on the horizon, Burbidge said cinemas are gearing up for a busy box office in April with the release of a few key titles.

One of the upcoming titles was The Super Mario Bros. Movie – a prime example of movie titles that will hit “an interesting audience”, Burbidge said.

“There’s obviously the family connection given the school holidays, but there’s this really nice nostalgia angle that’s come through, given that lots of different demos in experience and age have interacted with the franchise and the brand Nintendo.”

Apart from youth, Burbidge said cinema advertising also found its place in speaking to the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) audiences that many brands found to be hard to reach.

According to census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2021, 29.1% or 7.5 million of Australia’s population was born overseas. At the same time, 22.8% or 5.8 million people use a language other than English at home.

However, brands are known to be slower than their media counterparts – with players like multicultural broadcaster SBS – in including CALD audiences in their marketing strategy.

Val Morgan Cinema managing director, Guy Burbidge

“In terms of audiences, Bollywood and Chinese movies are the big two movie powerhouses. This content delivers cultural passion points that bring whole communities together and reconnects audiences with their heritage,” Burbidge explained.

“2019 was a high point for us, with 24% of the movies originating from culturally and linguistically diverse regions.

“[Multicultural audiences] are always quite invisible in terms of media, so we know that we’ve got a very solid story to tell when we talk to brands … not only about targeting these specific films in different languages, but also how we bring that together under festivals, and doing wider activations that speak to that cultural interest level within cinema.”

Burbidge said while the price of cinema advertising is no doubt more “premium” than others, the conversations around the topic should focus more on what the channel can deliver.

“I think us as a market is obsessed with costs and we’re comparing everything by costs. If you subscribe to the idea that not every impression, CPM, or screen is created equal, then there needs to be a better conversation around understanding what’s really driving brand outcomes and value rather than just headline CPMs.

“Cinema has as much of a place in delivering those big cultural medium moments as something like sports, theatre or concerts.

“Last year we had what we would consider three huge cultural media moments. They were Spider-Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar at the end of the year. The hallmarks of cultural media moments, for me, are real talkability and excitement.

“Being part of those cultural media moments is what brands crave, because there is some improved performance when you think about accessing these media properties versus just spots and dots.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.