Marketers Experiment With Cinemagraph Ads:
For marketers, piquing consumers’ interest online is now harder than ever. Internet users rarely click on banner ads and their favorite websites and social media services are rapidly filling up with sponsored messages and branded “content” vying for their attention.
In an attempt to cut through the noise, marketers are increasingly experimenting with new visual tricks and gimmicks designed to make consumers stop and take notice, if only for a second or two. Cinemagraphs — still photographs incorporating looping video elements — are a recent example of such a tactic.
Brands began posting cinemagraphs as animated GIF images to Tumblr sites, blogs, and other social networks a couple of years ago. Now they’re increasingly being used in paid advertising, too. Marketers say the format offers something unique that neither static imagery nor video content can.
“Static images are everywhere, and video is an amazing format but people have to commit time to watch it and invest in a narrative or story,” said Mark Homza, co-founder and chief creative officer of cinemagraph software and services company Flixel. “Cinemagraphs provide a great balance. They take the best of photography and best of video, and there’s an immediacy about it that captures peoples attention. From an ad perspective they’re non-intrusive and non-disruptive.”
“It really feels like advertising agencies are starting to see the potential here. Not because it’s new and trendy, but because there’s real value,” said Kevin Burg of Ann Street Studio, which has been creating cinemagraphs for brands since 2012. “There’s a stickiness to it. People want to look at it.”
Recognizing the growing interest in cinemagraphs, Facebook has recently begun pitching marketers on the idea of including them in the ads they buy across the social network. Facebook doesn’t support animated GIF images, but its autoplay video function can be “hacked” to create cinemagraph-like imagery.
To promote the launch of the new season of Bates Motel, for example, A&E networks commissioned a variety of spooky cinemagraphs from Flixel and posted them as videos to Facebook. Beer brand Heineken and Unilever’s Caress brand have also used cinemagraphs on the social network in the past two months.
“Advertisers and brands have really shown a lot of interest this year. Instagram and Facebook have brought about a lot more interest in advertisers using cinemagraphs,” Mr. Burg said.
But A&E ultimately decided not to to purchase sponsored posts for its Bates Motel cinemagraphs, in part because they were seeing so much organic attention across the network, according to Guy Slattery, the company’s executive vice president of marketing.
“I’m sure you’ll see more of these because they’re really successful from an organic reach perspective,” Mr. Slattery said.
Cinemagraphs may have applications beyond just social media ads, however. They could help elevate the much-maligned banner ad, too.
According to Mr. Homza, Flixel helped create a cinemagraph banner ad for Panasonic’s Lumix range of cameras. The cinemagraph version of the ad was clicked 60% more than the static version, he said. Other banner ads Flixel has created have performed up to 80% better than static banner ads, Mr. Homza added.
Beyond cinemagraphs, brands have also begun experimenting with other tactics to set their video content apart on social media, including “3D” videos. For Saint Patrick’s Day, Jameson used the video below for an Instagram ad, which uses an optical illusion to depict a bartender sliding a shot of Jameson toward the viewer.
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