Optimizing Your Trailer for Social Media

This post is an excerpt from the e-book Winning Your Audiences. Movie Marketing in the Connected World.

A trailer is a crucial creative tool when it comes to marketing your content. Here are tips and recent examples to help you edit an engaging TV or movie trailer.

Often, within film marketing, we find that trailers miss important opportunities to convey meaning for particular audience groups on specific platforms. We also find that trailers come with a host of introductions through screen cards that can last up to 15 seconds before the trailer actually begins. This is important to edit away, because most online audiences will give up if they are not engaged in the first 5 seconds.

Format Lengths for Different Channels of Advertising

It’s essential to vary the duration of your promotional videos, as different channels require different lengths.

  • Instagram: we recommend cutting video that is 15 to 20 seconds in length;
  • Facebook: we recommend 15 to 90 seconds;
  • YouTube: we recommend anywhere from 30 seconds to two and a half minutes;
  • Pre-roll: should be 20–30 seconds.

Editing Video to Convey Meaning

A common problem we find with trailer material is that, for many indie productions, distributors struggle to get the assets they need to do a proper job of marketing their movie. The trailers are too long, the electronic press kit contains no back story or interviews, and the way trailers are cut often does nothing to engage audiences.

A trailer edited to be displayed in the cinema has different requirements, as it is addressed to a ‘captive’ audience. Remember that you only have about 15 to 30 seconds to make a real impact online, as people’s attention spans are so short. So starting a trailer with a green screen followed by distributors’ logos is a really bad strategy, as demonstrated by the following graph.

Remember that you are paying to get someone’s attention. Despite all the slick video tools in Instagram or Facebook, for example, if you are not immediately conveying meaning to your audience, then you may as well be throwing your money out the window.

Here is an example of some work we did with Dheepan, a quite difficult to market title. Directed by Jacques Audiard, this 2015 film is about a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France under a fake name with a fake family and resettles in a rough urban neighbourhood.

Edited Trailer for Dheepan

The original trailer used by the distributor of Dheepan in Denmark was almost 2 minutes long, which makes it too long for online audiences. The more dramatic elements of the trailer were not exposed early on. The video also had a slow pace and provided too many distractions from the story with interposed studio and distributor logos. Still, it’s a great and moving trailer, so we used it on our landing pages:

Dheepan (original Danish trailer)

In order to capture online audiences, we instead created a shorter edit that still told the story of Dheepan, but sped up the pace of the trailer within a shortened length of 28 seconds. This new version was used across all of the campaign’s social media components as well as in banners. The targeting focused on the location where the film was screening and on retargeting users that had previously interacted with the distributor’s social pages.

Edited trailer for Dheepan

Author: The JT LeRoy Story

Getting the video length right along with pacing can have significant impacts on cost and performance. A good example of this was the campaign for Author: The JT LeRoy Story (2016, Jeff Feuerzeig). The original trailer was almost two and a half minutes long and was not performing as expected. So we decided to create a new video:

When we marketed this, we saw a 400% improvement in completed video views, and costs dropped by 75%.

Kærlighed og andre katastrofer

To emphasize the power of great video content, we often explore using several different videos across a campaign. We worked with the film producer and distributor behind Kærlighed og andre Katastrofer (2016, directed by Sofie Stougaard) in Denmark. The proceeds resulted in 3 edits on top of the trailer.

A short 30-second teaser:

A short spot on each of the film’s main characters, Fredrik and Rosa:

Each spot was advertised for exactly the same budget. When examining the results, we saw that the 30-second teaser clearly outperformed the other two videos by a factor of 5.

This proves the point that if you get your creative right, it will travel much further and lead to more engagement with your audience. This is why early testing is so important; it helps you to figure out what in your creative arsenal is actually working.

This post is an excerpt from the e-book Winning Your Audiences. Movie Marketing in the Connected Worldpublished by Gruvi which discusses why it’s so important to understand your audiences. It explains how to meaningfully reach audiences and how to measure their engagement so you have a clear picture of how your campaigns are performing.

The book is packed with case studies and useful insights into creative, communications, targeting, and channels (which to use and when to use them). Download the book for free.

This article is published here as part of the editorial partnership between CMF Trends and Gruvi. © [2017] [Gruvi]. All rights reserved.

Gruvi is a technology-based media agency that helps film distributors and producers around the world reach and build audiences for their films. The company offers a suite of products and services including programmatic solutions dedicated to serving campaigns on various platforms for the entertainment industry. Gruvi also publishes a blog focusing on content discoverability and audience management in the digital environment.
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