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10 tips for releasing killer game trailers

Last updated: November 2018

In this article, you’ll find tips and tricks for creating a killer game trailer and how to attract and keep viewers engaged with your video content. The tips come from Adam Myhill, Head of Cinematics, and Natalie Grant, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Film. You can watch their talk in full here. If you want to get the cinematography juicy bits crash course, make sure you tune in from the beginning of the talk to learn all about contrast, color, and composition, as well as tips on camera placement and movement, lens packs and making a smooth edit.

Why even make a game trailer?

Video is one of the most engaging forms of content on the web, so think about your trailer as the most powerful tool in your toolbelt for all your marketing campaigns. Make sure you convey the most important message at the very beginning of your trailer when the most eyes are still watching.

Start thinking from day one about your audience and what you want to communicate. Remember that you can also use your trailer release as a way to validate whom your game resonates with and what gets them excited.

How to put your game trailer out there, track results and optimize on-the-go.

You have one thing to tell in five seconds

People have a short attention span, so make sure you have a version of your trailer that’s under 30 seconds long. Imagine that someone’s going to click out within five seconds if you don’t hook them. Make sure to get straight to the point.

Keep players in your ecosystem

If you get someone’s attention and they’re excited about your project and will share it across one or two channels, that’s great. However, if they never come back to view some of your other content, such as your website, then what’s the point?

Make sure you add a CTA (“call to action”) and redirect people to a page where they can find more similar content, — or give them options to subscribe, share and follow. If you don’t know how to do that yet, you can start by looking into best practices around end-slates. (At the end of your YouTube video, you can add a deep link and swap it out later without removing the video to make edits). Remember you can update your end-slates with new CTAs depending on where in the lifecycle of the game you are. That’s why this is a better solution than hard-coding text into the video itself.

Leverage the second biggest search engine

YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google, and the word “trailer” is one of the most searched words on YouTube. Now that you’re aware of the massive opportunity that you want to take advantage of, make sure you nail down those details for your videos such as the video description.

For instance, YouTube usually cuts off your description, so viewers would have to expand it. That’s why you want to have your CTA, website link, and everything else that you consider important, above the fold. The video description is extremely important for SEO purposes (search engine optimization) because it includes all of the relevant keywords about what your game is and who you are. The word “trailer” should also be in there.

Make the best use of video thumbnails

Remember that YouTube doesn’t pre-populate the thumbnail for your video that perfectly captures what your game is about and your audience. The thumbnail is a huge part of how many people click on the video. You can take a capture from your trailer, add text and upload it. Don’t go with whatever is pre-populated in that field because you have an opportunity to optimize it.

Secondly, you want to use visually appealing imagery. Even if you have a dark game color-wise or genre-wise, make sure the imagery is more than just a dark image. It’s a lot easier to gloss over even if it’s a little bit duller looking.

Facebook videos — shorter is always better

The average viewing time Facebook counts as a view is three seconds. Consider putting logos deeper in your video or at the end rather than at the start. People scroll super quickly down their feed, so within the first three seconds, you should show something that’s so enticing that people stop scrolling.

If you’re going to do an ad on Facebook, be aware of the format. You can start by designing for mobile first. Square video (1:1) and vertical video (4:5, 2:3 and 9:16) can be most engaging as most people hold their phone upright. Make sure that you’re being intentional with each channel and file so you can continuously optimize and refine per channel.

Use native uploads

Create different files for your channels either for aspect ratio, length, and the CTA at the end of the video. Don’t be afraid to craft multiple versions of things, so that you can natively upload them on a per channel basis. For example, you want Facebook's algorithms to work for your video because Facebook’s native videos rank higher than a shared YouTube video.

The same principle applies to Twitter. The reason behind that is that when someone clicks on that video, they’re actually leaving the platform and they’re going to a different page. Be thoughtful about where you’re sending people as well.

Take advantage of paid advertising

Even if you haven’t done a paid advertising campaign before, all of the social channels have pretty great paid campaign capabilities to help you set up all the details. Check them out when you get a chance. Just make sure you start with setting a goal, planning what you want to achieve through your paid ads campaign, and how you want to approach this.

Segmentation is one of the greatest tools when you’re running these campaigns. A lot of these channels allow you to target people in specific countries, with specific interests and likes. If you can spare one hundred dollars, you can run a couple of campaigns that speak directly to your audience.

Check your campaign metrics and learn more about your audience

The work doesn’t stop at the moment you activate the paid advertising campaigns. You need to go back, maybe once a week, and check how they’re performing. That’s how you can look into patterns, such as spikes on website visits, or views, around specific hours and different time zones. If you start to learn how people are engaging with your content, you can make your video content work harder for you.

Reheat!

Buzzword alert! “Reheating” is also an important part of paid advertising. Reheating essentially means posting the same video again. However, there’s a proper way to do this, and that’s by resharing the original post, but with a different text on it. Why’s that? You want to keep counting the views on the same video, but you can test which text works better for your audience.

Of Facebook Live & other marketing tips

Facebook Live is a tool that you can leverage when you’re revealing something important and you want to create a bit of a buzz. You can even use push notifications for this so that your users know exactly when it’s happening.

On another note, think about technology brands. You might have been using a specific technology, software or hardware in the development of your game. You should contact that company and let them know that you’re building something based on their product. They might actually be excited to help you and amplify what your product is.

Consider doing a map of your users’ online journey. Even though it may sound a bit nerdy, it’s actually very useful to map out all of the websites, pages, and platforms where you have an online presence to find out how your users interact with your content and how you can redirect them to another stop in the journey and wherever you want them to go — without interrupting the narrative.

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