Trailer Traffic: The Holy Grail Of Digital Entertainment Marketing

Brand marketers have it tough. There are so many complexities to consider. You do TV, mobile, print, digital, POP, promotion, PR. You have to measure awareness, brand lift, conversions, ROI, intent to purchase, likelihood to recommend and more. Marketing movies, in some ways, is a very simple science for a complex art. Movie marketing, I will argue, is all about the trailer. 

As director John Sayles once said about Roger Corman: “If you could get a good trailer out of a script, Roger would have no objection to you making a good movie.” He wasn’t completely joking. The trailer is everything for marketing a movie. Ask yourself how many times you thought the trailer was better than the movie? There are plenty of trailers that chase people away from movies but more that get them excited, make them buy a ticket, rent a DVD or pay for a download. Trailers are money in this business. And for digital marketing, the only thing that matters is getting traffic to the trailer and getting people to watch it. You heard of “trailer trash.” Let’s talk trailer traffic. 



Movie trailers on digital have been hugely effective. Blockbusters like “Spiderman” top millions of views. “The Hobbit,” which Peter Jackson debuted at Comic-Con, could be a record-setter. The new “Breaking Dawn” trailer is number three in views on, and it doesn’t come out until Oct. 14. It’s a great way to measure buzz and customer reactions. And now, smartphones and tablets provide an entirely new platform to add to the mix.

We believe the science of trailer traffic breaks down to four strategies:

Go with media with proven effectiveness: AdColony recently partnered with Nielsen, Universal Pictures and Ignited USA to quantify how users interact on different screens. We found mobilevideo campaigns yield higher brand recall, search and purchase intent rates when TV media is run in conjunction with mobile video. Mobile video has a tremendous impact to these demand drivers and allows users to immediately engage and learn more. We used the Mark Wahlberg-action movie “Contraband” for the test. The primary call-to-action of Universal’s mobile video campaign with us was to drive users to view the full-length trailer and purchase tickets during opening week. Universal’s cross-screen strategy helped support a #1 hit in the box office. 

Go HD for the best customer experience: Especially on tablets and smartphones, ensure the quality of the trailer or the ad. HD video has made huge strides over the past year so make sure your mobile videos are running in HD. It is the best way to deliver any moving image, especially one as important as an ad that will drive trailer traffic or the trailer itself. Don’t go cheap on the visual experience. 

Consider the audience: Just a few years ago movie studios made the trailer available on YouTube and counted on it to go viral. Some did. Most didn’t. Now so many websites are running trailers that a movie studio has to be shrewd about where a trailer is placed and where they buy ads that will drive traffic to them. We mentioned MTV as a trailer destination site. There’s also a plethora of serious and irreverent sites such as Rotten Tomatoes. When making your ad buys consider the target audience and even the secondary audience. Example: “Breaking Dawn” is easy to plan and manage for teens. But what about the adult audience? What about the parents who will take their kids? They need to be factored in to the trailer traffic effort. 

Leverage mobile as part of the media mix: Trailer traffic takes commitment. Some films will not need the push to attract fans and go viral. Some films will be made or broken by it. Half-measures will produce half the results. Movie studios literally spend millions of dollars developing trailers. It makes no sense to leave that effort unsupported online. With the consumption of content converging on mobile, make sure you are reaching consumers on all digital platforms including mobile. 

Trailers are compressed movies. They contain the best moments and hit the motivations keys to get people in the seats. They even have awards for trailers. The 13th annual Golden Trailer Awards bestowed trophies on “The Hunger Games” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” under categories like “Best Action Trailer.” It’s just another example of the creative weight they carry. And together with the right media mix, trailers are a key part of driving demand.

1 comment about "Trailer Traffic: The Holy Grail Of Digital Entertainment Marketing ".
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  1. Pamela Horovitz from Internet Video Archive, July 26, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.

    Hi Will. My company, IVA, has delivered over 4 billion trailer plays online (Rotten Tomatoes is just one of our many clients) so we know a fair bit about this area. I think you've got an excellent list of recommendations for any film marketer to which I would add just a couple.

    1. Get your trailer out as early as you can. The lead time on trailers keeps growing. We now have trailers for titles that put out over 500 days in advance of release date. The reason is because the longer the trailer is out there the more opportunities people will have to see it, to share it, and to talk about it.

    2. Check the stats on your trailer plays. If you aren't stacking up against the cohorts of your release date you might need to cut another trailer. Or if you aren't reaching all the demos you have in mind don't be afraid to cut more trailers.

    We put out a chart every week that uses trailer plays to reflect audience interest. Check it out:

    Again, nice article.

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