Cinemagraphs are currently enjoying a somewhat of a resurgence in online marketing thanks to their visual impact. Although cinemagraphs are not widely known about, they’ve actually been around for more than 5 years! Here’s why they could be your new secret weapon…

What is a cinemagraph?

Put simply, they’re a collection of images brought together to form a ‘GIF like’ image. Cinemagraphs focus on an animated object while the background remains still. Subtle movements within an image draw the eye in, becoming the focal point of a larger picture. Done right, they can be extremely powerful!

Coffee pouring cinemagraph

Credit – Ray Vellest, http://woordup.com/

Looking at the above example, you were instantly drawn to the coffee pouring into the mug leaving a trail of steam behind – weren’t you? There’s something so enticing about this combination of static image and movement concentred in just one part of the creative, resulting in an effective, eye-catching video.

Are they worth the investment?

Creating the perfect cinemagraph can be a time consuming affair. In order for the image to run smoothly, a number of layers of individual photos must be perfectly placed one after another so that the focal point object is completely in sync with the previous photo. Done well, they are pleasing to the eye. Done badly, well… they’re not! So be sure to hire a professional. They tend to be cheaper than a video production, depending on the type of video.

High-end brands certainly believe them to be worth the investment. Stuart Weitzman recently launched a campaign for both Facebook and Instagram using cinemagraphs. According to Susan Duffy, Chief Marketing Officer;

“Cinemagraphs allow us to share mesmerizing moments that extend the visual vocabulary of the brand.” – Stuart Weitzman

Is this better for Facebook ads than video or static images?

Cinemagraphs are certainly a strong middle ground between video and static imagery, which out-perform many images;

AdAge found that cinemagraphs have a more viral aspect, therefore had 71% increased organic reach than static images alone.

The gif-like loop of the animation does also bring the element of video, without the necessary time and expense needed to produce. Video ads drive at least twice as much reach as static images (according to Social Bakers) and help get better presence on the newsfeed. It’s auto looping format trumps videos too – no more reliance on video clicks! I’ll drink to that…

Credit – Ecco Domani / Ann Street Studio

However, cinemagraphs can be formatted differently, reports Ben Brausen; animated GIFs or MP4 videos. Which are best depends on the intended purpose. Fortunately, Facebook allows videos to play automatically, but is the viewer going to sit for a long period of time and watch an auto looping image in video format? Probably not. And if they click off it, Facebook may penalise the post. MP4 videos are much greater quality than GIFs however, so for higher quality content with more detail, videos should be the primary format.

Another consideration for cinemagraphs as a whole is how they will be viewed. Since the majority of Facebook users browse on their phone, before investing in and promoting a cinemagraph, it’s import to view it on a mobile device first. On a mobile screen subtle movements and small details can be lost therefore rendering a cinemagraph useless so it’s important to know where the majority of your traffic is coming from and who you will target – mobile or desktop?

What other uses do they have?

Cassandra King reports that cinemagraphs can be used in multiple different digital marketing campaigns. They can be used on social media, email, digital displays, websites and digital ads, each to varying degrees of success. The Nature Conservancy have used them to great affect through their website. Their landing page has a strong visual impact from the second you click on it.

To summarise, depending on the sector you are in and whether or not your followers use mobile or desktop browsers, cinemagraphs can be a great investment. They represent great value compared to creating lengthy videos and offer a the potential for a greater level of organic reach. It is recommended that if you are targeting a high-end market there is certainly scope for a successful marketing campaign with cinemagraphs at the forefront.