Are GIFs the Future of Movie Marketing? 3 Trends That Are Changing the Face of Entertainment

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With the release of the summer’s first major blockbusters, it’s time to talk about the major shift underway in movie marketing–the shift towards short-form content.

Facebook is the pre-eminent platform for viral video, and one of the most important places that movie trailers are shared. However, Facebook users, on average, watch only the first 3-5 seconds of a video. Eighty percent of video views on Facebook occur with the sound turned off. Basically, whether content creators intend it or not, most videos these days are being viewed in the format of the GIF. And that’s not all—39% of Americans create their own GIFs, often from content borrowed from television or movies.

Users are making it clear what they want and expect from their video content—they want it short and frictionless. And content owners and marketers are beginning to respond to existing consumer behavior by prioritizing short content in their content marketing strategy. Here’s what the future holds as this trend takes root for good:

1. Trailers will enable interactivity

In the near future, trailer-viewing will no longer be a one-way street. It’s old news that trailer-viewing has moved online. With the power of the web, users won’t just simply view trailers, they will also engage with them—whether they’re creating high-quality GIFs in an easy-to-use interface, or turning several seconds of a trailer into a viral meme. The key to achieving this interactivity is by empowering everyday users to become creators—the technology already exists to turn trailers into short form content, but it’s not accessible to anyone but the seasoned Internet user. However, in the future, marketers will encourage interactivity, and integrate it into their overall marketing strategy. Engagement will be easy for everyone, not just the tech-savvy.

2. Trailers will go “bite-sized”

The trend toward short form content will not only change the way trailers are cut, but also the content they show. Currently, trailers focus on hooking users into key points of the story—their triggers are plot-based. But they’re not always created with an eye toward shareable moments. Trailers that are easily GIF-able, such as the latest Wonder Woman trailer, are being made into thousands of GIFs on Gfycat and shared all over the Internet by passionate movie fans. Increased interactivity means that trailers will be more focused on segments that can easily take on a life of their own and be shared as bite-sized moments. These snackable bites that might otherwise be throwaway in the context of the full movie (like a funny retort or a relatable facial expression) will be prime trailer material. As these moments go viral out of context, the whole trailer will gain traction.

3. Marketing will become grassroots—and unintentional

Marketers will be able to build campaigns that are ground-up rather than top-down, taking advantage of consumer enthusiasm. It only takes one user to create a bite-sized GIF or meme for that user’s entire social network to be exposed to a trailer they might normally never have watched. They might even share the GIF, heedless of the fact they never would have shared the full trailer. Taking small moments of the trailer out of context galvanizes the audience to share trailer content —for, although viewers might intend to share a funny moment, they’re unintentionally marketing the trailer and giving it much more exposure than it otherwise would have gotten. Trailers that go particularly viral will become an indispensable part of the cultural conversation—they’ll be cast as in-touch, and having their finger on the pulse of modern America.

Seems exaggerated? Major studios have already partnered with Gfycat [] (the world’s largest user generated GIF platform) to make GIFs out of the trailers for blockbuster summer movies on sites such as, with more sure to follow. And that means your next proposed movie marketing campaign might just have to contain a very healthy section primed for GIFs.

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