Cinemagraph by Sherif Mokbel. See more.

Marketing to Millennials: Imagery is Everything (Consider Cinemagraphs)

We live in an age of visual culture. Thanks to smartphone cameras, cheap data plans and increasing internet speeds, visual content has become the new online currency.

Most brands and marketers have woken up to the power of imagery: creating engaging visuals is the number one priority for 55% of advertisers this year according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute.

But given the vast amounts of photos and videos flooding social media streams every day, creating unique content and standing out from the masses is no easy feat. In search of new ways to inspire, leading brands are experimenting with innovative media formats like 360-degree-video and photo/video hybrids.

In my eyes this is a welcome development. Not only as the co-founder of a startup specialising in cinemagraphs (gallereplay), but also as a consumer. Long gone are the days when brands could get away with using photos of staged handshakes between businessmen or pretend-families cuddling up on a sofa.

Unlike previous generations, Millennials are largely immune to this kind of cheesy and contrived imagery (although we do get great pleasure from mocking it on reddit and tumblr).

Our taste has evolved: due in part to our heavy use of social media, we’ve become accustomed to everyday authenticity (Facebook), stylised visuals (Instagram) and the principles of design (Pinterest). We’ve adopted these aesthetic values almost subconsciously. As a result, generic stock has little impact on us and advertisers must try harder to win us over.

From a marketer’s perspective this may seem daunting, but it can also hold big opportunities. For example: we recently produced a cinemagraph series for a client in Berlin. They were looking for a playful way to communicate their corporate values and didn’t want to settle for generic stock images.

Their courage to try something different paid off. Since launching the company manifesto, with cinemagraphs produced especially for the project by gallereplay artists, visitors spend twice as long on the site reading about the brand. The average session time has doubled.

The moral of the story: if Millennials are your target market, be bold and daring with your visuals. If you rely on generic imagery your campaign could end up the “laughing stock”.

Cinemagraph by Virgo Haan. See more.