Cinema ticket sales are down 8.8% in the US alone this year so it’s becoming increasingly vital for movie studios to use online video to drive box office numbers.

However it’s not just about uploading a trailer to YouTube and sitting back and and waiting for the views to rack up months prior to a release date. Almost half of a trailer’s shares are achieved in the first 24 hours of upload.

In fact the most shared promotional content for a film isn’t even just the standard trailer anymore. It’s other more innovative and intriguing types of movie marketing content like prankvertising, music videos or standalone short films relating to the movie.

The good news is that one in three people would buy a cinema ticket after watching an online trailer or ad. The internet has become the key arena where the attentions of cinemagoers are fought for, however as it gets increasingly crowded and box office figures continue to drop, studios will have to work even harder to improve their strategy.

Unruly has just published some research on the current state of online movie marketing. Here’s a look at some of the stats and advice contained within.

Content is launched too early to generate opening weekend sales

The good news is that trailers display the highest viral velocity of any branded video content online, gaining almost half (42%) of their shares within the first 24 hours. 

Compare this to music videos and other branded adverts which take three days to hit the above milestone. Yet movie trailers tend to be released months prior to a release date. The LEGO Movie’s first teaser trailer was uploaded seven months before its release date but its strongest content was released much closer to opening weekend. 

Social success correlates with box office success

Disney attracted the most online video shares (26%) out of the ‘big six’ studios (Warner Brothers, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Paramount and Walt Disney) over the past 12 months. It also had 23% market share of box office revenue in the US during the same period. 

Warner Bros, which attracted the second biggest share of box office revenue (21%), also attracted the second most online shares (22%).

The most shared film content isn’t trailers

The top five most shared movie promos from the last 12 months are not trailers. Although trailers are still the primary method of marketing, the studios that have generated the most successful online buzz are the ones that have created genuine emotional responses through innovative content creation.

Here’s a look at the top 10 most shared videos according to Unruly’s ShareRank. Warning, contains a lot of Frozen and a bit of Ed Sheeran.

‘Let It Go’ sequence performed by Idina Menzel - 3.4m shares

Essentially this is just the 3m38s long segment of the movie where Elsa sings ‘Let it Go’. Disney’s savviness was in uploading this officially before any other less scrupulous people got in first and hijacked the 350m pre-teen girls from watching their pirated video on repeat.

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise (Carrie) - 2.3m shares

Uploaded to YouTube simply as Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise by the mysterious user CarrieNYC, just a week before the film’s US release date, this prankvert is actually very effective and it’s interesting to see the mechanics behind the stunt. By October 2014, a month after the film’s release, the video had been watched 59m times.

Devil Baby Attack (Devil’s Due) - 2.1m shares

This prankvert certainly overshadowed the movie itself, the name of which I constantly forget. Although the box ofice takings were half the amount of Carrie's (featured above) it very nearly matched its share count.

 

A Tribute to Paul Walker (Fast and Furious 6) - 2m shares

Created by the producers of Fast & Furious, this is a tribute to its late star Paul Walker. 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Ed Sheeran "I See Fire" - 1.5m shares

Good if you like watching black and white footage of Ed Sheeran singing about hobbits and dragons in a recording studio. Stick with it, Sheeran gets slain by an elf.

The Fault In Our Stars official trailer - 1.1m shares

The first actual honest to goodness trailer here. Appetite for this film was certainly built up around the original novel’s loyal fans, to the point where its online buzz eclipsed that of the Transformers and X-Men sequels.

Maleficent official trailer - 822,148 shares

The only ‘teaser’ trailer featured in the top 10. Disney’s dominance of social video is increasingly apparent. As is the creepiness of Lana Del Ray’s version of ‘Once Upon a Dream’.

Transformers: Age of Extinction teaser trailer - 806,278 shares

Mark Wahlberg running away from a green screen. Pretty much sums up 75% of Hollywood’s summer output.

X-Men: Days of Future Past official trailer - 710,197 shares

Surprisingly the only superhero movie to feature here. Although perhaps as this genre (yes it’s a genre now) is so voraciously covered by every media outlet, blog and social channel the trailers for these films tend to offer nothing new to the comic book fan.

Frozen ‘Let It Go’ sing-along - 699,242 shares

Don’t pretend like you don’t know the words already.

For an expert view on all things movie marketing, the head of digital strategy at Universal Pictures Albert Hogan will speaking at our Festival of Marketing in November, a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.

For more on movie marketing from the blog, check out Is it dawn of the dead for official movie websites?

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 16 October, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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