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Cinemagraphs: Just When You Thought Animated GIFs Were Passé, a New Form is KILLING IT

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Cinemagraphs: Living Photos in Advertising

cinemagraph is a photograph in which one small element has motion. Think: a landscape photo where only the leaves on the trees are moving, or beach scene with a woman reclining, completely still except for her sundress blowing in the wind. Big brands like Doritos, the Emmys, and Panasonic are employing them in their ad repertoire.

Not-so-still life with ramen

Cinemagraphs in Advertising

It’s a simple idea, a crossover between photo and video, but it has an inexplicably gorgeous and seemingly revolutionary impact on the viewer — and more and more, the commercial world is starting to realize this: people can’t stop staring at them, which is pretty much what advertisers want.

Cinemagraphs are being implemented in fashion expos, food showcases, social media campaigns, and more. Advertisers who are ahead of the curve have let their imagination run wild, prompting the question: into what media platforms will cinemagraphs expand next? The hardest part, however, is learning when “new” isn’t always “best.”

Why choose cinemagraphs over photo or video?

A great question. The answer? Sometimes, you don’t. Like all creative conundrums before this, you choose the medium that will best showcase the material. When you need subtle elegance, drama, or a little added life, however, the cinemagraph is the way to go. They truly transport the viewer into the scene, evoking emotions that videos and still photographs fail to do at a consistent rate. Not to mention, their production cost is minuscule compared to their video counterpart.

Maury Postal, a creative director at Social@Ogilvy, put it best. A big part of cinemagraphs’ effectiveness is that they’re “as beautiful as a still image, they’re as captivating as a still image, but they’re not as [demanding of a viewer’s time] as a full video or full film.” They answer the question:

“How do you captivate people using motion in a way that entices them to go into the brand more, to go into the scene more, or stop and actually notice? Because that is the toughest thing to do in the ad world now: to get people not just to look but to actually see something.”

The dripping syrup provides motion that is subtle yet attention-getting

Cinemagraphs are different. They’re not what people expect to see. That alone will cause people to stop, pause, and notice, and that kind of attention is both rare and hungrily craved by brands

As social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram enable the auto-play and video loop features, brands are able to integrate cinemagraphs into users’ lives in a more seamless way. When comparing cinemagraphs to traditional video, AdAge notes that “Each image has all the visual punch and immediacy of video, without the barrier to entry of a play button.” Stacking them up against still photos, AdAge claims that they have more virality and 71% more organic reach. A Panasonic case study split testec two banner ads: one a cinemagraph and the other a static photo. The cinemagraph garnered a 5.6x higher click-through rate.

Never have advertisers had so much influence over the first object or point of attention in an image.

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