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Autoplay Enables Eye-Popping New Cinemagraphs

You know, media users are pretty savvy. They can spot an advertisement in their feeds and scroll past it with a quick swipe of the thumb without even registering the name of the business, let alone the message.

This, understandably, isn’t what advertisers want to hear. But the truth of the matter is that even when an ad is natively placed right in the middle of our information streams, advertisers can’t make anyone pay attention to it.

Or can they?

There’s a new creative approach to ads, and it’s called the cinemagraph. Technically speaking, a cinemagraph is a GIF finely crafted so that only one area of it moves — like a photograph got married to a video. It’s the next big thing in native advertising, and advertisers are betting it’s just the trick to get users to sit up, take notice, and (finally!) stop scrolling.

Artistic cinemagraph by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

Autoplay leads the way

Cinemagraphs aren’t actually new — they were made popular a few years ago by visual artists Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck and have previously been used in Tumblr ads. But there’s never been a broader platform for them until recently, when Facebook added autoplay for Facebook videos and enabled Instagram videos to play on a loop. These new features have opened up a different realm of opportunities for advertisers.

Cinemagraphs are video’s velvet touch

Autoplay in theory is great: why not do the work for users who are too lazy or busy to click to play a video? But autoplay in application can be irritating. Many users out there simply don’t want to be told what to do, and that applies to being “told” which videos they want to watch. And if you ultimately want users to buy what you’re selling, the way to their hearts is not through anger.

This is why the cinemagraph is an elegant solution for the autoplay video format. It’s eye-catching without being disruptive or annoying. When you spot one you can’t help but linger to watch it over and over, trying to figure out how it was made. It’s strangely hypnotic and meditative to watch beads of water travel down the sides of a juicy ripe tomato, or someone swirl a wine glass.

Cinemagraph for Ecco Domani made by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg
Cinemagraph for Gilt Taste by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

How long will cinemagraphs hold their allure? It’s difficult to say, but for now they’re here to stay — until the next new medium comes along, anyway.

In the meantime, enjoy these fun cinemagraphs we’ve seen around the web recently. Which one’s your favorite?

By artist Romain Laurent
By artist Romain Laurent
By artist Romain Laurent
By artist Romain Laurent

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