Polling theater-goers, via cell phone
The text messages will ask cellphone users about specific products, brands and services that appeared during the theater visit, perhaps in an ad before the movie or in a product placement. Or, the studios could use the technology to get an instant reading on the response to blockbuster films on opening weekends.
Nielsen wants to use text messaging, because of the instant feedback it produces, long before the moviegoer goes home and is influenced by other marketing messages.
The information will be used by businesses, which may include movie studios, television networks and advertising agencies, who pay Nielsen for collecting data. But the data company is quick to point out that the text messaging is voluntary and will not involve consumers who fume at unsolicited cellphone messages.
Cellphone numbers will be collected from visitors to MovieTickets.com, a ticket-purchase Web site. When moviegoers are buying tickets, they will be asked if they would like to take part; they are asked again in a follow-up message.
Participants in the program will be able to earn points toward rewards like free movie tickets.
I'm hoping that this program doesn't encourage people to use their cell phones to text during the previews or main attraction -- I find the sight of bright cell phone screens in a dark theater to be almost as distracting as cell phone conversations -- but I have a sinking feeling that it will.