Tracking Trailer Plays: What Does A “Play” Mean?

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What’s the number one trailer this week? How many plays did it get? How long did people watch?  More plays on phones than on the web?  How many total trailer plays were there last weekend? What’s the most played trailer ever?

Those are questions that we ask all the time at IVA, and we know that if you offer trailers on your site, you ask them as well.  The list of questions goes on and on – getting to the best answer can be a challenge.  The IVA team believes that tracking trailer plays is both art and science.  This is true not only for gathering the data, but also for interpreting it.  IVA changed the way we track trailer data, so we thought it was a good time to share our thoughts about the Art and Science of Tracking Trailer Plays.


Defining a Trailer Play  Does a trailer need to be watched all the way to the end to count as a play?  How about just ten seconds?  Or maybe 30 seconds? Does it matter if it’s a really long trailer?  Or a really short one? Or a trailer for a TV series or a video game? Different companies answer those questions in different ways and sometimes it depends on whether or not the trailer is the first teaser, or the last in a series. Whatever the answer what all trailer ‘plays’ have in common is an active request from a consumer for the trailer, so that’s where tracking has to start.  We call these ‘Play Requests” and they are an important indicator of interest on the part of the consumer.

Play Duration  Surely it must count more if a trailer is played all the way to the end than if someone only watches a few seconds?  To answer that requires thinking about the various contexts in which consumers watch trailers.  There is a one-to-one relationship between every consumer and the end product that ends with a purchase decision and that often starts with the first viewing of a first trailer.  Let’s consider movie trailers first.

FandangoAppMultipleTrailers-300x244While historically the first encounter with a movie trailer happened in a movie theater, today we all know that it often happens online.  The length of a first viewing of a trailer can depend on a variety of factors.  In a theater the captive audience can be presumed to sit through one or more trailers.  While filmgoers sometimes gripe about having to sit through commercials in front of a movie, they view trailers as a useful combination of information and entertainment.  Trailers won’t be ‘pushed’ through to the audience again until just before the theatrical release of the movie when trailers, now retooled as commercials, run on TV.

In the weeks in between, when trailers are most readily available to consumers online, the activity is all pull – meaning that the consumer must be encouraged to actively request the trailer by clicking something, usually an image or ad for the movie.  Those clicks result in a play request.  The duration of the play is dependent on the context in which the request is being made.  We identified some of the possible scenarios for watching a trailer in Thirty Reasons People Watch A Movie Trailer.

Some situations warrant a quick glance at the trailer and some warrant watching all the way to the end. No matter the length of the viewing, each trailer experience provides the viewer with the exact amount of information and entertainment they seek.  This is so because the consumer has control over the viewing experience.  That means that a very short trailer viewing on the cusp of purchasing tickets is just as valuable as a long trailer viewing earlier in the promotional life of the movie.  Both have a role to play in the purchase decision.   (Even a trailer viewing that helps a movie fan choose not to see a film is valuable in that it keeps that fan from complaining about it in social media.  Better that they choose something more suited to their own taste.)

IVA believes that what’s most important is still the play request since that’s the best indicator of active consumer interest.