Movie theater advertising is a common form of promotion for local businesses trying to target a captive audience. If you can connect your brands to the right movie and crowd, you can gain exposure and customer interest. However, theater advertising does present several drawbacks that impede your potential for success.

Late-Arriving Audience

Theater ads typically roll for 15 to 20 minutes before a film begins. This can be problematic since much of the audience trickles in a few minutes before the start of the movie. If your ad shows early in the run, it may only hit a small portion of the audience.

Delayed Response

Theater advertising is a delayed-response form of advertising. This means it is intended to contribute to long-term brand development rather than drive immediate sales. While brand exposure is positive, a high percentage of the audience may forget your ad by the time they see 10 to 15 ads and a two hour movie. In essence, the inability to do anything immediate with the message and the two-plus hours of visual stimulation can inhibit the message's impact.

Limited Audience Control

You typically purchase a block of advertising spots that are played over a month or longer. Policies vary by theater, but you often can't handpick the films you want your ads to run before. This is a dilemma if your products and services are aimed toward a specific audience. As a wholesome, family-oriented brand, your ad might play before a PG-13 or Rated R movie. You might target a teen audience, but your ads may also run during kid or adult-oriented films.

Investment Uncertainty

As a small-business owner, getting the best value for your advertising dollars is critical. Cinema advertising can have high costs and the results are difficult to measure. While you can survey guests to find out how they discovered your business, you don't get a scientific count of how many people paid attention to your ad relative to the audience size. Plus, theaters usually base rates on anticipated or historical audience counts, but theater attendance varies based on the quality and types of films, along with the weather.