Using Cinemagraphs to Spark Engagement

Is it a photograph? Is it a video? It’s both, actually.



What is a cinemagraph?

It’s essentially a looping animated gif, but it’s called a “cinemagraph”, and it combines the stillness of a photograph with the subtle motion of video in an effort to engage the viewers ever diminishing attention span. While the concept of this eye-candy-content is not new, the advertising applications for them is. We mostly have Facebook’s autoplay feature, as well as Instagram’s adaptation to share looping video to thank. Not to mention Tyra Banks investing in the animated-picture app Flixel, as well as featuring cinemagraphs heavily in America’s Next Top Model.



Why use a cinemagraph?

The purpose of a cinemagraph, or any content for that matter, is to engage an audience. And if you’ve been feeling like every website ever is looking the exact same, you’re not alone. How can we break away from overabundant, generic stock photos that are even less thrilling than plain toast? The answer is be subtle. Add motion. Give people something new, exciting and unexpected. Content that doesn’t fight for the spotlight, but rather enhances the overall experience. Consider The New Yorker’s first ever animated cover as a prime example.



Use cinemagraphs to visually engage your audience and tell the story of your brand. Take BMS Carpet Cleaning as an example. Sure, an image of an employee cleaning a carpet accurately portrays what the company does, but offers no excitement what-so-ever. By adding very subtle motion to the image, we can introduce visual excitement and further drive home what the company does.


BMS Carpet cinemagraph


Cinemagraphs, or animated gifs, have file sizes are comparable to static jpeg images, and well under video file size. Bonus: Animated gifs are already largely support on almost any device or browser! What are some ways you could potentially further your brand message using cinemagraphs?