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Here Is the Captivating Ad Format Facebook Hopes Will Wow Its Users

Subtly animated cinemagraphs are practically hypnotic

What if there were an ad that you just couldn't draw your eyes from? It's oddly captivating, almost hypnotic, and it would halt your thumb from scrolling farther down your Facebook feed. 

There's one such creative format that is only now catching on as the digital world's equivalent of the glossy magazine ad: cinemagraphs. And Facebook, along with its mobile photo network Instagram, wants more brands to try them out as it quietly introduces advertisers to the potential of this half-video, half-photograph style, according to digital marketing insiders.

"You're going to start seeing a ton of these on Facebook," said one advertising executive who has seen a guide produced by Facebook for marketers called "Hacking Facebook Autoplay."

Cinemagraphs have been around for a few years, made popular by two artists well-known in ad circles, Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck (who created the Armani eyeglasses image above). The format is a type of GIF, a photo in which only a piece of the image subtly moves.

A cinemagraph created for Balenciaga by Burg and Beck's Ann Street Studio.

The style has been used in ads on Tumblr created by Burg and Beck, and now Facebook is giving it a whirl.

"Because of autoplay, brands need to be doing more with this stuff," the ad exec noted. "This is something that plays out with motion in the feed that's cool."

Some brands already have shared cinemagraph-style posts to Facebook, including Stouffer's and Coca-Cola. One of the common uses is to depict steam wafting off a hot dish, for instance.

Facebook has only been able to support such creative because of its autoplaying video, which sets images in motion without users having to click a button. "Advertisers buy it just like video," the ad insider explained.

A cinemagraph created at Inkaterra La Casona by Burg and Beck's Ann Street Studio.

Just last week, Facebook updated Instagram to allow videos to play on a loop, which could help brands post cinemagraphs there because they are set to constantly repeat.

Burg and Beck have done Tumblr ads for Saks Fifth Avenue and Lincoln Motor Co. It's helped luxury brands like Chopard with creating cinemagraphs for organic social campaigns.

The duo said they were just playing around when they discovered this idea of "isolated motion," Burg said in a phone interview this week.

They thought the format would be ideal for advertising. "People can't stop staring at them," Burg said. "Isn't that what advertisers want?"

A third of the projects they do with brands include cinemagraphs, and the artist agreed that their clients are just now planning how to get them on Facebook and Instagram.

A cinemagraph created for Ecco Domani by Burg and Beck's Ann Street Studio.

Burg and Beck have even talked with Facebook's team to consult on projects because of how complicated the format is. It could take weeks in production to create a cinemagraph, they said.

"We've had all kinds of new inquiries [from brands]," Beck said. "They don't want video that's so noisy; they want a cinemagraph because it has more elegance."

A cinemagraph created for Lincoln by Burg and Beck's Ann Street Studio.

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