Reach Your Audience with Programmatic Video: Star Wars Edition

programmatic video advertising, Programmatic Video

The latest Star Wars trailer was released this week, revving up fans of the series for the start of the next installment this December. The trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted during Monday Night Football, caused many viewers to tune into the game who wouldn’t normally watch it. However, most people still watched the trailer online, presenting a key opportunity for programmatic video advertising in Star Wars.

Fans Flocked to Online to Watch the Trailer

13.9 million viewers tuned into Monday Night Football on October 19 when the trailer premiered. That’s a high number, but the online numbers are significantly higher – and are expected to keep climbing.

According to Deadline Hollywood, the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer received over 15.5 million views on YouTube as of October 20th. That’s an average of 1 million views an hour. Facebook had 7.5 million views of the trailer. The total between the two platforms was over 23 million. These online numbers don’t account for trailer views on mobile devices, considering that mobile devices and tablets make up at least a tenth of all video consumption.

Importantly, people were doing more than just viewing the trailer on Facebook. The same source reported that “1.3 million people had 2.1 million interactions (including posts, comments, likes, and shares) related to it.” These online views and posts represent a huge real-time advertising opportunity for marketers.

Programmatic Benefits of Non-TV Viewership

TV advertising is still based on old thinking: Blast a message to as many people as possible, and hopefully you’ll reach your target audience. Though smaller devices like computers, tablets, and mobile devices may mean smaller screens, they offer a more personalized, one-on-one experience and marketers are more likely to directly reach their intended target audience.

TV advertising is also extremely expensive so most companies can only afford to blast a message once or twice. On the other hand, programmatic video advertising online is significantly less expensive, allowing for multiple impressions. In other words, you could pay a huge amount to run your ad after the Star Wars spot on television. Or, you can run a targeted campaign alongside it on one of the countless blogs embedding the trailer in articles, where viewers will visit again and again to watch a second, third, or fourth time.

The number of times a single viewer will watch the trailer is also demographic information that can be used to better target your ads. Is your target demographic a ‘Similar Audience’ to die hard Star Wars fans? Make sure your ads display during those repeat views.


Programmatic advertising can better capitalize on cultural moments like the advertising in Star Wars trailer than can traditional media. As consumers turn to streaming over traditional forms of media, marketers have increasing opportunity to get their ad impressions in front of the right people.

The Star Wars trailer is a case study in the large scale transition away from traditional video viewership, but it will take a change in thinking to fully embrace programmatic for these types of cultural phenomenon.


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