What Can Marketers Take Away From New Research on Movie Trailers?

According to new research by Unruly, 31 percent of moviegoers said they would buy a cinema ticket after watching a trailer or ad online. The marketing technology company also found that 28 percent of 1,050 Web viewers surveyed said they would rent the film, while 12 percent claimed they would buy a home entertainment copy. Most marketers would sell their souls on eBay to get conversion rates that high on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. So, even if you aren’t a marketer for one of the movie studios, there is a lot more than popcorn that you can take away from this new research on movie trailers. Let’s take a closer look.

Consumers who share movie-related content are almost six times more likely to purchase a ticket than those who don’t. However, Unruly’s new report – called The Science of Sharing: Movies – found the majority of online movie marketing campaigns are not being optimized for sharing across the social Web.

Box office revenue in the U.S. alone has slumped 8.8 percent, with a loss of more than $1 billion over the past 24 months, putting increasing pressure on movie-makers’ bottom line. The research, which analyzed the most shared movie promos from September 2013 to September 2014, provides actionable insights for other marketers as well as studios looking to generate more return on investment (ROI) from their online marketing.

The key findings include:

  • Video content drives ROI: Almost one-third (31 percent) of moviegoers who watched a movie promo said they would purchase a ticket to watch the film, while 12 percent claimed they would buy a home entertainment copy, and 28 percent said they would rent the film.
  • Content is launched too early to generate opening weekend buzz: Trailers display the highest viral velocity of any branded video content online, attracting almost half (42 percent) of their shares within the first 24 hours. It takes music videos and ads three days to hit this milestone, yet movie promos are released months prior to a release date.
  • Social video success correlates with box office success: Disney has attracted the most online video shares (26 percent) out of the Big Six Studios over the past 12 months. It also had 23 percent market share of box office revenue in the U.S. during the same period. Warner Bros, which attracted the second biggest share of box office revenue (21 percent), also attracted the second most online shares (22 percent).
  • The most shared film content isn’t trailers: Instead, it’s different types of content. The top three most shared movie promos from the last 12 months are not trailers. Instead, they’re prankverts, stand-alone micro-movies, or music videos. Films that go beyond the trailer are generating cut-through and social buzz in a competitive, trailer-heavy media landscape.
  • It’s emotional: The two main reasons why viewers share a video are the strength of the emotional response it elicits and the reasons it gives viewers to share it. The most common emotions elicited by movie trailers are happiness, amazement, and exhilaration. The most common social motivations are shared passion, zeitgeist, and opinion seeking.

To help movie studio advertisers, Unruly ShareRank, an algorithm that helps marketers predict the “shareability” of their video content, has been trained specifically for the movie industry. Unruly ShareRank for Movies can also use facial coding technology to determine precisely which moments in a movie promo provoked the strongest viewer response.

10 Tips to Optimize Your Next Product Launch

Based on this new research, what can marketers in other industries do to outsmart the competition and maximize online buzz and drive sales? If you consider a movie premiere the equivalent of a product launch, then there are 10 lessons to learn:

1. Track the metrics that matter: With video sharers nearly six times more likely to purchase movie tickets, marketers would be remiss to just track views as a measurement of success. Views are a vanity metric and don’t measure the deep engagement required for a consumer to take action.

2. Launch your strongest content on Wednesday to use online buzz to drive sales: With 62 percent of video shares occurring within three days of launch, marketers that launch social videos months in advance of theatrical release are far too early to drive buzz that can convert to sales. For all online ads, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are the days with the heaviest sharing. So, if you’re planning to maximize the benefits of social word-of-mouth (WOM), Unruly recommends launching your strongest content the Wednesday before your product launch.

3. Experiment with nontraditional videos: 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.

4. Test your social videos for shareability in advance of launch: Unruly ShareRank identifies the social variables driving your content and measures brand recall. It also makes data-driven recommendations on how to optimize your video player and distribution plan. If you have multiple pieces of content to choose from, ShareRank will identify which video most resonates with consumers, which has the greatest sharing potential, and why.

5. Improve memorability and shareability by provoking intense emotional responses: Use the science of sharing 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 norm and increase your chances of social success.

6. 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 necessary for a strong product launch.

7. Ensure strong branding in your social video for products that are neither upgrades nor line extensions: Upgrades and line extensions benefit from brand names and concepts that are already familiar. Original products and categories benefit from an extra branding boost in their social videos, which can be achieved with greater screen presence for the product’s name or deploying a BrandBar in your player when using paid distribution.

8. Make the most of mobile: Mobile is becoming an increasingly prominent tool for consumers. Viewers are using their mobiles to inform their buying decisions and mobile digital video is in huge growth. Use in-feed native formats to distribute your social videos on sites where viewers are researching products. Make sure your social video is everywhere interested consumers are.

9. Align advertising and transactions to drive sales: Think outside the box and customize your player with links to purchase products or apps while passion is at its highest levels immediately following social video view.

10. Grow market share with strong triggers of exhilaration and amazement to create a sense of urgency: The data shows that frequent moviegoers plan to see most movies after watching a trailer. Therefore 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 the product more often.

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