What’s a Cinemagraph?

What’s a cinemagraph you ask? They’re the coolest thing since sliced…well, you get it. Have you seen the still photos in your Facebook or Instagram feed that capture your attention with a subtle moving part only to keep you staring and wondering, “How’d they do that?” In this case the cinemagraph accomplished its advertising purpose, it kept your attention for more than a split second. It grabbed your attention and caused you to pause, wonder, question, and focus. This is the power of a cinemagraph in advertising especially on Facebook and Instagram.

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cinemagraph, or living photo, in its most basic form is a still photo in which a minor and repeated movement occurs, forming a video clip. They are published as an animated GIF or in other video formats such as an .mp4, and can give the illusion that the viewer is watching an animation.

Cinemagraphs can be easily created with a digital video camera or smartphone camera, a tripod, and some editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Flixel. Creating a quick cinemagraph is easy and fun, but what’s the point, right? I mean, yeah you could share this cool living photo with your social network and get a few “Likes” or “Shares” but then what? Maybe that’s enough for you––maybe it’s simply a hobby and a unique work of art. I think there is more.

The Future of Cinemagraphs

Video is here and it’s here to stay in a big way. Facebook and Instagram boast billions of viewers and most are uploading video, creating live video, and viewing hours upon hours of video. The problem is that the average person shoots long video clips without editing capability. In this age of quick information and short attention spans, people prefer shorter video clips that get right to the point. Cinemagraphs blend the magic and composition of photographs with the interesting movements that we appreciate in a video. While Vines and Boomerang clips are fun to create and share, the timelessness and creativity of a well-composed cinemagraph has lasting qualities appreciated both by viewer, creator, advertiser, and consumer. Cinemagraphs are here to stay.

Cinemagraphs in Advertising

Brands are always on the lookout for new ways to stand out and capture awareness. The Internet killed printed newspapers and most magazines. The DVR has hindered television commercials as viewers can simply press the fast forward button on their remote. YouTube has disrupted the way we consume entertainment and even video commercials. Social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have billions of eyeballs fixed on their feeds all day long. Companies are plastering social media feeds with sponsored ads, videos, and other messaging. Consumers are adapting and looking past the obvious ad in search of the next vacation photo of their ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. Enter the cinemagraph. This new medium is interesting and has the power to capture the eye and attention for a longer period of time than the average photo or ad. Take Pepsi for instance.

Pepsi Sees Advantages of Cinemagraphs First Hand

(As originally reported on Flixel’s blog)

The PepsiCo Digital Team identified close to 1.1 million individuals in the United States that fit their target demographic profile and served ads on desktop and mobile news feeds on Facebook. To setup a control and treatment group, the campaign budget was evenly split among a cinemagraph and a still frame from the same video with identical targeting parameters.

The campaign spanned a combined 5.62 million impressions over the course of eight days, resulting in cinemagraphs coming out on top — and us wiping our glasses to see if we misread the decimal place.

Cinemagraphs outperform still photos in ads

CTR and Engagement Go Up; Video Engagement Stands Out

As it turned out, our vision was great. PepsiCo saw incredible lifts as a result of their cinemagraph ad, including:

  • Increased click through rates: Ads using cinemagraphs saw a 75% lift in overall click through rates over image based ads. The still photo ad saw a 0.27% CTR vs a 0.47% CTR on the cinemagraph.
  • Increased Engagement: Facebook measures engagement in way that also accounts for video views on top of likes, comments and shares, and cinemagraphs saw a phenomenal 51X lift in engagement owing to it.
  • Of the people who chose to watch the video, 22% of them chose to stay and watch the whole 12 second cinemagraph loop, pointing to the other big advantage of longer dwell times found in living photos.

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By Seth Ollerton