How to Give your Film Trailer the Thumbs Up

How to Give your Film Trailer the Thumbs Up

In 1913, the first ever film trailer for a musical called The Pleasure Seekers was produced. Back then, film trailers were, in fact, shown at the end of film screenings but were soon after moved to run before or sometimes even in the middle of films, as audiences tended to leave as soon as the main event was over. For decades, the only place to experience the latest film  trailers was the cinema. It was the age of the enthusiastic movie-goers, a captive audience that soaked in everything that was happening on the big screen in front of them.

Since the rise of digital and particularly the mobile age, human behaviour in a movie environment has changed – we’re time-poor and with a wealth of information accessible via our phones 24/7, we are constantly overloaded with content. It comes as no surprise that film trailers need to adapt for the mobile age to cut through the clutter. Nowadays, trailers are easily accessible via social platforms, such as YouTube or Facebook. A poll by CBS revealed that 57% of Americans aged 18-34 regularly base their decision whether they will see a film on the film trailer. As a result, large spends and in-depth strategies make trailers now often the source of a film’s campaign, with the rest of the digital activity built around it. The ever-evolving social media platforms and user behaviour pose several challenges to a brand-new trailer launching into the digital landscape. We’ve looked at a few elements that could help you stand out against the overflow of content and grab the attention of that desirable 18-34 audience group:  

  • Impact
  • Viewability
  • Attention Maintenance
  • Shareability


Impact- Trailer Bumpers

Bumpers are a 5-second video of impactful footage that are placed directly before the full trailer to grab the audience’s attention from the word ‘Go’ and increase the average watch time, especially if the trailer has a slow start. They often feature bright colours and the most recognizable cast faces, allowing audiences to instantly connect. A text card at the end announces the film title, so users know they are about to watch a brand new full-length trailer. The most effective use of bumpers on YouTube is when promoting your trailer through a skippable ad, ensuring your audience get the most impactful part of the asset before they can skip the ad.    

Viewablity – 1×1 Formatting

According to a study by Hootsuite nearly 2.8 billion people around the world are now using social media, 91% of those are regularly using their mobile devices for this.     The likelihood today is, your trailer is being watched on a mobile device by an on-the-go audience. Its viewability is something that must be taken into consideration. To ensure maximum engagement with a new trailer (or any piece of content for that matter), it needs to be a simplistic, integrated viewing experience: A video that has a classic 16×9 aspect ratio doesn’t look appealing on a mobile device. In portrait mode, the video does not fill the frame, getting overlooked easily with other content being visible to distract the user. On top of that, to see a full-screen version of the trailer, users would have to tap it and turn their phone horizontally. That’s a lot to ask of a passive user that isn’t necessarily invested in your film yet. A 1×1 aspect ratio format is the perfect solution to this. Square videos, fill more of the mobile user’s screen, meaning your audience can watch the trailer on the go without any action needed. This will result in not only more video views but more engagements and interactions.    

Attention Maintenance – :60 Cutdowns

With over 700 million users, Instagram is, after Facebook, the most-used social media location that lets you establish a brand presence. Instagram is a crucial platform when wanting to reach a younger audience. Initially focused on sharing images, Instagram has recently been delving more into video content to remain relevant. Instagram understands its audience – users are not willing to spend a long time on one piece of content. In a digital world dominated by short-form video (its biggest competitor Snapchat being at the forefront of this) Instagram, as a result, has set itself a restriction: 60 seconds is the maximum video length on the platform. To still present your trailer to the younger Instagram audience, a 60-second cutdown of your trailer can be produced to accompany a full-length launch on other channels. This will allow you to ensure the important younger audience is not forgotten and they will still see most impactful part of the feature length asset.    


At the end of the day, whether your film trailer is shareable is at the mercy of the content you are given. Is the trailer funny, inspiring, emotional or scary? All these are good indicators that your video has the potential to be shareable. It’s up to the marketer to guarantee that the trailer is being noticed across the different digital platforms, in order to be shared by users. Their role is to make sure it’s impactful, it’s formatted to fit the corresponding platform and it keeps each audience attention span in mind.