7 Lessons Marketers Can Learn From Movie Trailers

What mar­keters in oth­er indus­tries can learn from Hol­ly­wood about dri­ving sales, out­smart­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, and max­i­miz­ing online buzz.

Greg Jarboe By Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR. Join the discussion » 0 comments

What can mar­keters learn about how to be vis­i­ble and per­sua­sive in the moments that real­ly mat­ter from research on movie trail­ers? Well, accord­ing to a sur­vey by Unruly, 31 per­cent of U.S. movie­go­ers said they would buy a tick­et after watch­ing a trail­er online. Most mar­keters would be thrilled to get con­ver­sion rates one-tenth that high. So, even if you aren’t a mar­keter for one of the film stu­dios, there is a lot that to take away from this new research.

Here are sev­en key find­ings from Unruly’s research:

  • Movie pro­mo shares are cor­re­lat­ed to movie box office rev­enues.
  • Movie pro­mo videos present a unique­ly rapid shar­ing pat­tern.
  • Watch­ing movie pro­mo videos spurs tick­et sales.
  • Neg­a­tive word of mouth harms open­ing week­end rev­enue.
  • Stu­dios use the same set of emo­tions to dri­ve shar­ing of pro­mos.
  • Peo­ple share movie pro­mos to invite friends to go the the­ater.
  • Tra­di­tion­al movie trail­ers are not the most viral movie pro­mos.

Based on this research, what can mar­keters in oth­er indus­tries do to dri­ve sales, out­smart the com­pe­ti­tion, and max­i­mize online buzz? Well, if you con­sid­er a movie pre­miere to be the equiv­a­lent of a prod­uct launch, then there are sev­en lessons to learn. Let’s take a clos­er look at each one.

Lesson 1: Track The Metrics That Matter Like Active Engagement & Economic Value

With view­ers who share videos near­ly 6x more like­ly to pur­chase movie tick­ets, mar­keters should track shares as a mea­sure of suc­cess. Views are a van­i­ty met­ric (usu­al­ly indica­tive of bud­get spend) and don’t mea­sure the deep engage­ment required for a con­sumer to take action. So, track:

  • Active engage­ment, which includes social media met­rics like con­ver­sa­tion rate (com­ments per video),
  • Ampli­fi­ca­tion rate (shares per video).
  • Applause rate (likes per video).
  • Eco­nom­ic val­ue, which includes cal­cu­lat­ed met­rics like the real con­ver­sion rate per user and gross cal­cu­lat­ed prof­it.

For exam­ple, Juras­sic World — Offi­cial Glob­al Trail­er (HD) has 28.5 mil­lion views and 416,000 engage­ments, accord­ing to Tubu­lar Labs. More impor­tant­ly, Juras­sic World brought in a record break­ing $208.8 mil­lion domes­ti­cal­ly over its first week­end.

Lesson 2: Launch Your Strongest Content On Wednesday To Use Buzz To Drive Sales

Since 62 per­cent of video shares occur with­in 3 days of launch, social videos launched months in advance of a prod­uct launch are too ear­ly to dri­ve buzz that can con­vert to sales. Wednes­day, Thurs­day, and Fri­day are the days with the heav­i­est shar­ing. So, launch your strongest con­tent the Wednes­day before a prod­uct launch. Star Wars The Force Awakens search interest The excep­tion to this rule can be seen in the series of promi­nent spikes in Google and YouTube search inter­est – which cor­re­late per­fect­ly with the release of:

Now, Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens went on to break numer­ous box office records, includ­ing:

  • Biggest world­wide open­ing week­end and sin­gle week­end gross – $529 mil­lion.
  • Fastest film to gross $1 bil­lion – 12 days.
  • High­est-gross­ing 2015 film – $1.870 bil­lion.

Nev­er­the­less, this just rein­forces its sta­tus as the excep­tion to the rule. Most oth­er movies – and most oth­er new prod­ucts – can’t and shouldn’t start pro­mot­ing a launch more than a few days in advance. Heck, the Star Wars: Episode VIII Pro­duc­tion Announce­ment has more than 10.7 mil­lion views and 266,000 engage­ments, accord­ing to Tubu­lar Labs, and that film isn’t slat­ed to be released until Decem­ber 2017.

Lesson 3: Experiment With Nontraditional Videos & Test More Provocative Content

Your strongest social video may not look like an ad. Add stand­alone, provoca­tive con­tent to your con­tent plan or a music video. Pop­u­lar music videos have the added bonus of gen­er­at­ing addi­tion­al organ­ic views over a longer time peri­od. For exam­ple, Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire” / The Hob­bit: The Des­o­la­tion of Smaug.

Lesson 4: Improve Shareability By Provoking Intense Emotional Responses

Read Viral Mar­ket­ing: The Sci­ence of Shar­ing by Karen Nel­son Field to learn how to cre­ate social videos that grab atten­tion and com­pel peo­ple to share. Use less com­mon psy­cho­log­i­cal trig­gers or hit the more com­mon trig­gers of hap­pi­ness, amaze­ment and exhil­a­ra­tion hard to over-index vs. the US mar­ket norm and increase your chances of social suc­cess.

Lesson 5: The Greater The Number Of Views, The Greater The Number Of Shares

The greater the num­ber of views, the greater the num­ber of shares your con­tent will receive – even if the share rate is low. Invest in paid dis­tri­b­u­tion to guar­an­tee you achieve the earned views and online buzz. Accord­ing to the YouTube Cre­ator Play­book for Brands, “The YouTube plat­form allows you to opti­mize your invest­ment in paid media by acti­vat­ing the vir­tu­ous cir­cle that links Owned Media (your video con­tent), Paid Media (paid video adver­tis­ing) and Earned Media (‘free’ views obtained when peo­ple share the video ads).” It adds, “It is not uncom­mon to see cam­paigns gen­er­ate at least one earned view as a result of every two paid views.”

Lesson 6: Make The Most Of Mobile Which Generates About 50% Of YouTube’s Views

Accord­ing to YouTube CEO Susan Woj­ci­c­ki, more than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices. And mobile video con­sump­tion is pre­dict­ed to account for 72 per­cent of all mobile traf­fic by 2019! So, if you’re mak­ing con­tent for a mobile audi­ence, you should real­ly con­sid­er mak­ing ver­ti­cal videos. For most smart­phone users, it’s just more nat­ur­al to hold the device one hand­ed and upright, so the ver­ti­cal for­mat is more palat­able for many.

Lesson 7: Create Urgency With Strong Triggers Of Exhilaration & Amazement

Unruly’s data shows that stu­dios can increase box office rev­enue by attract­ing less fre­quent movie­go­ers. Mar­keters in oth­er indus­tries can also use audi­ence tar­get­ing to get their social video seen by occa­sion­al users, and high­light the exhil­a­rat­ing moments which will be aug­ment­ed by using their prod­uct more often. Need an exam­ple? Watch The Revenant | Offi­cial Trail­er [HD] | 20th Cen­tu­ry FOX. Accord­ing to Tubu­lar Labs, this video trail­er has 16.4 mil­lion views and 247,000 engage­ments.

Greg Jarboe

Written by Greg Jarboe

President, SEO-PR

Greg Jarboe is President and co-founder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency that was founded in 2003. He’s the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and also a contributor to The Art of SEO, Strategic Digital Marketing, Complete B2B Online Marketing, and Enchantment. He’s profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes, a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and writes for Tubular Insights and The SEM Post. He’s an executive education instructor at the Rutgers Business School and the Video and Content Marketing faculty chair at Simplilearn.

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