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Summer Blockbusters: Ad Spend and Attention Trends

We’re deep into summer movie season, so we partnered with iSpot.tv, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company, to see which studios are putting major marketing muscle behind their latest blockbusters — and if that push is translating to viewer attention. The data below is from April 1 through July 9. 

Overall, movie studios have spent an estimated $606.1 million dollars on 112 ads that have aired over 139,500 times and generated 43.5 billion TV ad impressions.

Universal Pictures leads the way with an estimated spend of $116.3 million, or nearly 20% of the whole industry’s outlay, followed by Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox.

When it comes to individual movies, Universal Pictures’ The Secret Life of Pets 2 leads in both spend and TV ad impressions by a wide margin. And although Twentieth Century Fox’s Dark Phoenix comes in second for spend, it’s third for impressions (beaten out by Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4). 

But it’s important to keep in mind that spend and impressions don’t necessarily equal engaged viewers. Some context: Using data from a panel of 11 million smart TVs and devices, iSpot measures the average percentage of an ad that is played, a metric called the iSpot Attention Score, and the propensity of consumers to interrupt “ad play” vs. the average, called the iSpot Attention Index. 

With iSpot Attention Indices of under 100, four of the five movies with the biggest spend are actually more likely to be interrupted that other movie ads (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV). Toy Story 4 is the only one less likely (albeit by 1%) to be interrupted. 

1. Universal Pictures’ The Secret Life of Pets 2 

Est. Spend: $43.2 million 

Impressions: 2.3 billion

Attention Score: 92.46

Industry Attention Index: 94

2. Twentieth Century Fox’s Dark Phoenix

Est. Spend: $30 million

Impressions: 1.9 billion

Attention Score: 92.37

Industry Attention Index: 93

3. Walt Disney Pictures’ Aladdin

Est. Spend: $28.7 million

Impressions: 1.9 billion 

Attention Score: 90.65

Industry Attention Index: 76

4. Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4

Est. Spend: $27.6 million

Impressions: 2 billion

Attention Score: 92.98

Industry Attention Index: 101

5. Columbia Pictures’ Spider-Man: Far From Home

Est. Spend: $23.5 million

Impressions: 1.3 billion

Attention Score: 91.85

Industry Attention Index: 87

On the flip side, here are three movie ads that held above-average viewer attention during the period measured: 

Columbia Pictures’ Men in Black: International

Attention Index: 131 (31% less likely to be interrupted than the average)

Amazon Studios’ Late Night

Attention Index: 122 (22% less likely to be interrupted than the average)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s The Hustle

Attention Index: 117 (17% less likely to be interrupted than the average)