Advertising with Cinemagraphs, the (revolutionary?) New Ad Format for 2015

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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The escalating popularity of “cinemagraphs” is sweeping the advertising and marketing industries, and could mean big things for your inbound marketing strategy.

This ad format, becoming more and more popular on social media platforms, is coming soon to a newsfeed near you.

The term cinemagraphs, a mix of photograph and video, was first coined in 2011 by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg of Anne Street Studio. However, it wasn’t until February of this year that a big player in the social media space launched this Ad format.

Many big brands have already implemented this format into their advertising strategy. By the time you scroll through some of the featured examples below, it will become evident that cinemagraphs can be absolutely bewitching and irresistible to the eye (a big plus for all-important visual marketing).

This article will explain what cinemagraphs are and how you can use them in your own online advertising.

What exactly is a cinemagraph?

The cinemagraph file format is a GIF, which is created by taking a video, uploading the video to an editor, exporting the frames and then using a program such as Photoshop to create an animated GIF. In other words, cinemagraphs are commonly produced by taking a series of photographs or a piece of video and using image editing software to create a loop effect. This is done in a way that motion in part of the subject between exposures (for example, a person’s dangling leg) is perceived as a repeating or continued motion, in contrast with the stillness of the rest of the image. The file can be used on social media and in blog posts, just like a GIF.

What makes it different from the traditional GIF that was born way back in 1987 is that a good cinemagraph is based on HD or 4K resolution video while the file size is tiny in comparison.

Will the cinemagraph dominate the Ad industry?

Recently I’ve seen serious advertisers trend away from the traditional animated gif. The days of flashing red “Click Here” buttons and frame-by-frame animated banners seem to be on their way out. Some traditional gifs might live on but only in birthday e-vites, forums, and perhaps G-chat conversations. Many big brands are moving to cinemagraphs, which is a clear sign that this format is on its way to ad industry dominance.

Examples of effective cinemagraphs

With cinemagraphs, being subtle is key. A successful cinemagraph contains only a slight movement of one par of the image. This draws the viewer’s attention to the image and makes them do a double take as they scroll the page. “Did that image just move?” Yes, and it can be hypnotic. 

Below are some images collected from Beck and Burg’s Anne Street Studio:







With the increasing popularity of image based apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, the cinemagraph has the potential to reign supreme. Why? Because of the following:

• The cinemagraph requires no interaction or action from the user to begin its animation
• The image forward cinemagraph looks right at home in the image heavy platforms
• The subtle nature of the cinemagraph creates interest and intrigue in traditionally static platforms

Should I use cinemagraphs for my brand?

The answer is yes. There are unlimited possibilities with this emerging format. It’s by no means a new concept, but having Facebook confirming that this is going to be the new standard says a lot. I personally am very excited to start incorporating this technique into a campaign for the near future.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some apps you can download to create your own cinemagraphs.

Will you (or are you) using cinemagraphs in your marketing? Let us know in the comments section below.

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