It’s too late to imagine that ticket buyers might put their smartphones away during the pre-show ads and programming. “That horse is out of the barn already,” National CineMedia‘s Kurt Hall conceded today at the MKM Partners Investor Day Conference. But the head of the No. 1 cinema ad sales company says people might be willing to pocket their phones during the trailers. “That’s where the real interruptions are.” His company could help, he says, by using its technologies that enable advertisers to send messages to phones tied to content that appears on the screen. If you want people to turn off their phones during trailers then “why not have that message come up on the phone itself? It’s a hell of a lot stronger message than having it just come up on the screen.” We’ll see. Meanwhile, Hall says that he’s optimistic about his business as companies — including auto makers — increasingly use movie ads to introduce products and models. “There’s some good news out there about the number of product launches. That’s good news for cinema.”
National CineMedia, operator of the nation’s largest in-theater ad network, reported today after the closing bell that it grew revenue by 8.2% year-over-year to $136 million during the third quarter. That’s a quarterly record for the company, which saw its ad revenue jump 8% to $127.1 million; ad revenue is up 3.3% year to date. Net income for the quarter was $16.8 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with $11.8 million and 24 cents a share in 2010. Income for the year is up 40.9%. The company also said that it has authorized a 3Q cash dividend of 22 cents per share of common stock to be paid on December 1 and intends to pay a regular quarterly dividend for the foreseeable future.