Cinemagraphy in Social Media Advertising

Cinemagraphy was defined as “living images” by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who first started creating cinemagraphs in 2011.  Visually, cinemagraphs are images with subtle movements. They are usually displayed in a GIF format, which will loop forever. In this way, cinmagraph encourages viewers to stare at it and engage with it. 

More and more cinemagraphs are seen on social media for advertising. It is a great way to draw audiences’ attention. It is shorter and simpler than a video. And it is more than a picture. It can easily tell a story and catch people’s eyes. Stuart Weiztman used cinemagraph featuring its sandals to do promotion on Instagram. Microsoft also had a social media campaign produced with cinemagraphy for Surface. According to Flixel’s case study on this campaign, there is 110% increase in engagement of the cinemagraphy advertising on Twitter compared with the advertising with a still image (Seyid, 2016). With the increase of engagement, the cost of social media advertising per engagement also decreases.

It is not hard to create technically. I created several cinemagraphs weeks ago. Shooting the footages relatively stable can make it much easier to create a cinemagraph. Then, edit the footages in Photoshop to create a mask to get rid of the part that you don’t want it move. After all, saved it as a GIF. The footage for cinemagraph doesn’t have to be very long. Usually I only keep it for 10 seconds, as long as the loop is finished. However it is very important to design the cinemagraph carefully in the pre-production stage. Since it loops forever and you don’t want people to notice where is the end point of the footage. The beginning point of the cinemagraph should someway match the end point of the cinemagraph.  

A lot of advertisers exaggerate the feature of the product that they want to emphasize on in the cinemagraph. In the Surface advertising campaign, the smooth and shiny edge of the surface is highlighted by the cinemagraph. Cinemagraphs allow the content to be beyond expectation, which maximizes audiences’ attention and curiosity on it. It is multi-dimensional which creates more possibilities in the content rather than a still image. It is also eye-catchy and short which fulfills audience fast-pace lifestyle. As more and more social media platform start to pay more attention on video and GIF, for example the Boomerange on Instagram and the GIF function on Tumblr, cinemagraph will have a bigger market and I see this technique as an upcoming trend in advertising industry.