2016 Branding Strategies: How Cinemagraphs Increase User Engagement

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If you’re looking for a way to help your clients stand out and attract/engage users, then it’s time you added cinemagraphs to your clients’ branding strategies. Cinemagraphs are static images that contain one subtle and seamless motion that have seen a lot of use in big brand advertising over the last year. Their attractive and sticky nature is what makes cinemagraphs one of the branding strategies and web design trends that we’re most excited about for 2016. While writing this article, we experimented with the format ourselves – as you can see below:

A video posted by Liquid Web Inc (@liquidwebinc) on

Big Brands Are Using Cinemagraphs To Attract Customers

Cinemagraphs are quickly becoming ubiquitous – you can spot them on social media channels like Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Big brands, including Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Dos Equis, Budweiser, Stuart Weitzman, Toyota USA, Netflix, A&E Networks, Gilt, and even airlines like Lufthansa, to name just a few, are using the format to attract viewers to their social media platforms. The director of market operations at Instagram, Jim Squires, stated in an article with Digiday that cinemagraphs are one of the more creative styles embraced by marketers on his platform.

“People love [cinemagraphs], advertisers love them, and they are a really great way of drawing attention to certain aspects of the photo,” Squires said.

A video posted by dunkindonuts (@dunkindonuts) on

Cinemagraphs aren’t exactly new (Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg of Ann Street Studio, started experimenting with the format in 2011 to highlight their fashion photography), but they have been experiencing a resurgence in the last year or so – and their recent rise in popularity is no coincidence. Cinemagraphs provide a number of benefits to advertisers, including creating images that are intriguing, tell strong stories, and are “sticky” for website viewers. But how can you leverage this fun and interesting graphic format to increase user engagement on your clients’ websites?

A video posted by Jamie Beck (@annstreetstudio) on

Why Should You Use Cinemagraphs For Client Projects?

Touted as the best of both photography and video worlds, cinemagraphs entice viewers to pay attention by drawing their eye and standing out from other media. It is this quality, along with many other reasons, that make them ideal for web designers and advertisers to utilize in client projects and branding strategies.

They Stand Out

Even though the popularity of cinemagraphs is on the rise due to usage by the above mentioned brands, they’re still a unique way to advertise on the web, where viewers are deluged with videos and photographs daily. Because of the sheer amount of imagery used in advertising, a photograph alone might not be enough to grab a viewer’s attention. Videos, however, often require a time commitment for viewers or disrupt them completely from their goal. Cinemagraphs are a perfect blend of the two – quick and easy to consume and unique enough to stand out, without being overly distracting or annoying.

The Stickiness Factor

Cinemagraphs can provide real value to web designers due to their “sticky” nature. They take advantage of the non-disruptive quality of a still photograph, while also catching the eye of a viewer with a small amount of movement. The combination of these factors makes them attention grabbing for a viewer scrolling through a web page – small, unexpected movements catch users’ eyes, and entice them to pay attention for longer periods of time. Longer pageviews lead to increased engagement and leads for your clients! As Kevin Burg, of Ann Street Studio, said:

“There’s a stickiness to [a cinemagraph],” Burg explained. “People want to look at it.”

Increased User Engagement

Brands are also finding out how cinemagraphs can increase engagement. Flixel, a cinemagraph software and services company, has been helping brands see success with cinemagraph ads. According to CEO and Co-Founder Mark Homza, Flixel helped create a cinemagraph banner ad for Panasonic’s Lumix range of cameras that was clicked 60% more than the static version. Other banner ads have performed up to 80% better than their static counterparts, Homza said. While that example is for banner ads, it’s easy to extrapolate to web design. Cinemagraphs have the potential to help your clients increase engagement and connect with end-users via a variety of ways – from web forms that create leads to spreading brand awareness.

Easy to Distribute

Cinemagraphs are great for great for sharing and encourage a higher level of engagement on social media. While they first became popular on Tumblr, they are now commonly seen on other platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Features like looping video, autoplay features, and Pinterest’s cinematic pins allow cinemagraphs to create a seamless experience for end users.

Enhanced Brand Storytelling

In addition to being non-disruptive and enticing to viewers, cinemagraphs can help build a brand by telling a powerful story – and inviting the viewer to be part of that story. With the addition of movement to a still photograph, cinemagraphs capture a single moment in time and then expand on that moment in depth with movement. This can be incredibly useful for brand-building on a client’s website. In an article by The Atlantic, fashion photographer Jamie Beck describes why, in her own words, this graphic format is so successful:

“We feel there are many exciting applications for this type of moving image,” Beck explains. “…There’s something magical about a still photograph — a captured moment in time — that can simultaneously exist outside the fraction of a second the shutter captures.”

BONUS: Small File Sizes

In addition to the many strategic benefits of cinemagraphs, they also have one significant technical benefit. Cinemagraphs can be .gif files, which are relatively small and lightweight for use on the web. This makes them easy to use on client websites and across social media platforms. Their lightweight nature ensures they use little bandwidth, eliminating the problem of slow loading pages.

A video posted by dunkindonuts (@dunkindonuts) on

Cinemagraphs offer a lot of intriguing benefits for web designers and can increase engagement and brand awareness for your clients. We’re looking forward to watching the creative minds of the advertising and web design world experiment with this graphic format – and doing a little experimenting of our own. Have you created a cinemagraph for a client? Did it see success? Let us know in the comments below!

Check out more cinemagraphs below:

A video posted by Get the Gilt look (@gilt) on

A video posted by Get the Gilt look (@gilt) on

A video posted by Netflix US (@netflix) on

A video posted by Budweiser (@budweiser) on

A video posted by toyotausa (@toyotausa) on

A video posted by toyotausa (@toyotausa) on

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