If you hear the word “animation” and think “Saturday morning cartoons” instead of “awesome marketing idea,” this blog post is for you. I am really excited about animation in marketing for a variety of reasons, but first, let’s talk about some basics.
What is animation?
Animation is a series of still images that flash by quickly. As we see them, our brain fills in the gaps and creates motion. So animation is really about tricking the brain into seeing something that’s not there.
For example, if you see an arm bent at 90 degrees in one frame and in the next frame it’s at 180 degrees, or straight, your brain fills in the movement of that arm straightening out. It’s crazy.
Why animation is important for marketing
Everything – information sharing and communication – is being pushed towards social media and messaging apps. As a result, our already-short attention spans are getting even shorter.
We need to find a way to communicate faster. Animation can do that, and it can do it really well for three reasons:
Animation is eye-catching
Animation really stands out if it’s the only thing moving. Imagine standing in Times Square, and instead of 10 animated LED billboards, there was only one animated billboard and nine static billboards. Which would catch your attention first?
Animation is visual
It has been scientifically proven that visual information is processed faster by the brain and remembered longer than text. Human perception – eyesight – is how we are wired to process information. We are all visual learners.
Animation is minimalistic
When you use words and write about, say, “7 ways X product can work for you,” you are limiting yourself to how many people are going to read that. Animation, on the other hand, will shorten and really focus in on the message.
How to use animation in marketing
I think we are moving towards animated infographics. You still reduce information to its simplest form and present it in a visual format, but you add movement to keep people engaged.
These are great to share on social media, but what’s even better is that they don’t take long to create, once the infographic itself has already been designed.
Animated GIFs are the most budget-friendly option. Because they tend to be only a few seconds long and therefore not big (in terms of size), they will load quickly on websites, in online ads, and on social media.
Just make sure your website can host animated GIFs before you start creating one. Not all website hosts will support them due to the bandwidth they require.
As I’ve already mentioned, animated LED signs are another great option. They are already used in airports and sports stadiums, but now our new Metro cars have them, too. We did a really big one for WTOP that was shown at Nationals Stadium – you can see it below.
We started out by determining how long the ad needed to be (30 seconds), what info it needed to convey, and how those two pieces of information would work together. It’s all math at first – divide the time by the content, and figure out how you want information to come in and go out.
Next we decided which motions to use, in which direction. We created layers for each graphic (images/text) that we wanted to animate, and imported those layers into our animation software. Finally, for each graphic, we selected a starting point, an ending point, and an action. The last step is the most technical and time-consuming, but we were very pleased with the result.
What about animation in email?
I’ve been asked about using animation in email, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. An animated GIF file is too big for email; even an email that uses too many graphics can hose things up. Plus, animation helps most when other information is competing for your attention – like in our Times Square example. In an email, static images already make it easy enough to focus on the content.
But for environments where there is a lot of visual competition, such as public spaces or the Internet, animation is an excellent way for your message to stand out and get noticed.
Interested in using animation in your marketing strategy? Give us a call.