Our 3rd question asked “where [you] watched the last trailer seen.” We proposed the following response options: in cinema, at home, at home of a friend, in a public space, at work, in transit. Despite the likely redundancy between “in transit” and “public space” responses we wanted the additional context data.
Interestingly, “Television” is not offered as a possible location for Movie Trailer Viewing within the 2009-2011 Nielsen/NRG research, even though computer-enabled devices like On-Demand, X-Box and Play Stations, which employ televisions as screens, are listed. But despite TV’s absence from “venues for viewing trailers,” TV features as the top vote getter in Nielsen/NRG’s question about sources of movie information. Of course, others sources of movie information on TV include commercials, film clips on shows like Access Hollywood or Entertainment Tonight, talk show interviews with movie stars (in anticipation of releases) and news/infotainment items about forthcoming releases.
Issues with the Data?
In our own data--and impacting our ability to draw unambiguous conclusions-- some percentage of respondents has almost certainly conflated a TV spot with a theatrical trailer in their comments. As fans and students of trailers understand and appreciate, TV Spots and Trailers, while related types of A/V movie marketing, are nonetheless distinct in terms of function, form and content. (You can read more about their differences here.)
In all fairness, rarely is a theatrical 2:00 movie trailer shown on broadcast or commercial TV; instead, what is shown on broadcast and/or commercial TV are :30 or :15 TV spots-- short, hyper-kinetic offspring of the trailer produced not so much to preview the film but to remind viewers of its current or imminent availability in theaters. Given the length, the story information is typically abridged and the emphasis rests on stars, spectacle, genre and branding, information that can be presented visually and quickly.
In our data, TV is mentioned by 15% of respondents as the medium through which they viewed a trailer. Regrettably, we did not ask them to specify whether their TV is in fact a computer-enabled device, allowing them to watch (on demand) a theatrical trailer. As convergence of TVs and computers is achieved, this distinction will cease to matter. For the time being, we cannot be entirely certain that a significant number of respondents are not referring to trailers and TV spots interchangeably!
Still, we take comfort in the fact that the qualitative responses provided elsewhere in the survey describe content suggestive of trailers and experiences with story details that a:30 spot would be unlikely or incapable of delivering.
In any good research project, part of what you learn is which questions to ask better or next time. We look forward to inquiring in detail about the viewing experience of TV spots as a separate question from the viewing experience of what we used to refer to, for good reason, as theatrical trailers.