Using Animation for Marketing and Advertising

Animation for marketing has become commonplace. But how? The answer lies in how technology has become an all-encompassing concept, embedding itself into every facet of our daily lives. The average shopper lives a fast-paced existence, facing a constant bombardment of advertising from every direction. In an ocean of branded messages, how do we choose which messages to engage with?

Once reserved to billboards and the glamorous world of print, television and radio, marketing has now reached saturation point – a fact guaranteed by our constant use of smartphones, social media and voice assistants like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. In this competitive world of conflicting messages, how can we continue to grab the attention of consumers?

There is no single answer to this pertinent question. However, some basic research into market trends can shed some light on what really engages the ‘average’ web user. The days of static advertising and radio promotion are dwindling, and consumers now prefer to engage with video. For many business owners and marketers, this fact may seem a little obvious. After all, who doesn’t love sitting down to a good video?

The Golden Age of Video

Yes – as humans, we’ve always loved video. However, a huge uptake in video as a marketing tool over recent years points towards something much more significant. Consider this: 85% of businesses use video – a huge increase from just a few years ago in 2016, when 61% of businesses used video as a marketing tool. Furthermore, 92% of marketing professionals insist that video forms a major part of their overall strategy – a substantial increase from only 78% in 2015. All of these statistics point towards one emerging fact: we now live in the Golden Age of Video, and as such, marketers must give consumers what they want.

The facts are therefore clear: web users love interactivity, moving images and sleek, flowing video footage. For marketers, there’s a wealth of choice out there: drone footage and 360 video tours have become advertising essentials in the tourism and hospitality industries; whilst high-res, slow-mo footage and explainer videos come as the perfect accompaniments to any range of products, from cars and bikes to kitchen and household appliances. However, across each and every sector of industry, animation has proven to cater best to internet users, holding their attention for longer. For online businesses, that means more interaction, more engagement and therefore more profits.

Animation can unleash the potential of creativity and artistic flair, bringing your marketing campaign to new and exciting places. Let’s support this with yet another statistic: consumers process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and animated content grabs the attention of browsers in less than 1/10th of a second. It is one of the most engaging and visually appealing ways of conveying technical and complex ideas, and makes your site’s visitors 100% more likely to spend more time there. But what do we mean by animation, and how can this art be used to bring your brand to life?

A Brief History of Animation

The term ‘animation’ stems from the Latin stem of ‘animātiō”, meaning ‘a bestowing of life’ (according to dictionary.com). Long before we recognised the term, however, animation was often referred to as ‘moving image medium’, before groundbreaking strides in cinematography saw it rise to global prominence at the turn of the twentieth century. French producer Charles-Émile Reynaud enjoyed real success with his Pantomimes Lumineuses, also known as the La Théâtre Optique (The Optical Theatre). In the space of eight short years, Reynaud put on animated shows to over half a million visitors at the Musée Grévin in Paris. In the below video, we see a young Walt Disney explaining the magic of Reynaud’s animation:

Following Reynaud’s success with The Optical Theatre, what is now known as the ‘Silent Era’ came close behind. This period of time saw the ushering in of chromolithography film loops, allowing children to experiment with the art in the comfort of their own homes. Hand-drawn animation took off in 1908 with Émile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie, with ‘cartoons’ in their earliest form emerging as an industry in its own right by 1910. The industry grew in popularity, before the arrival of Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie in 1928 transformed animation as we know it today.

Synchronised Sound: A Revolution in Moving Images

Animation was popularised around the world with the arrival of Steamboat Willie, which saw the debut of the universally-recognised Mickey Mouse character. The success of the production was secured by its synchronised sound, bringing to life a beautiful series of hand-drawn images. Only five years later, Disney innovated with full colour following an exclusive deal with Technicolour – a brand that is still to this day a household name. Whilst it has obviously aged, the impact at the time was significant, with a review from Variety magazine claiming that “Giggle came so fast at the Colony Theatre they were stumbling over each other”. You can watch the 1928 production of Steamboat Willie below – check it out.

Steamboat Willie opened up the floodgates for a huge community of animated cartoon characters, many of which have prevailed to the modern day. These include household names like Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Tom & Jerry and Casper the Friendly Ghost, all of which emerged across the Second World War and post-war periods between 1938 and 1945. A huge spike in popularity for this new medium saw animation spill into the world of television, with Hanna-Barbera Productions emerging as prolific producers across the 1950s and early 1960s. Like Walt Disney’s creations, Hannah-Barbera’s characters became household hits, with cartoons such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Scooby-Doo still regularly broadcasted on television networks across the world.

As animation grew into the 21st century, the industry climbed to a huge value of US$68.4 billion by 2008. Both as an art and as an industry, animation has thrived, with animated feature-length films returning the highest profit margins (around 52%) of all film genres in the period 2004-2013. Computer animation has become one of the dominant forms of animation, thanks to Pixar and Disney’s Toy Story, which became a global hit following its box office release in 1995.

The Rise of Animation in Marketing and Advertising 

The success and appeal of animated video production opened up some obvious opportunities in the world of advertising and marketing. Celebrated for its graphic appeal and injection of humour, the medium was first applied to advertising with animated characters such as Kellogg’s Snap, Crackle and Pop characters as part of its Rice Krispies cereal campaign. The culture of using animated characters in advertising efforts has persisted. We can see branded animated characters across several of the world’s leading brands, from Michelin Tyres and Mr. Muscle to McDonald’s and Red Bull. Check out Red Bull’s famous 2000 animation below, which solidified their marketing motto: ‘Red Bull gives you wings’.

Yes – animation has been championed by some of the most prominent and wealthy brands that we know today. However, continued advancements in technology and animation software have transformed the industry, including 2D computer graphics, real-time renderings and computer-generated imagery (CGI). These advancements mean that animations are no longer the domain of super-rich and well-resourced companies, but also brands who may be at the start of their life, with limited budgets and outreach. It is also true that animations are no longer solely for cartoon’s or fast-food brands: animation is now used as a valuable marketing tool across each and every sector of industry imaginable.

Despite the level of skill and artistry involved, animation has proved to be much more cost-effective than traditional advertising methods, whilst it is also more effective in engaging and hooking the attention of your target audience – no matter who that audience may be. The strongest benefit of animated advertising is its compact and creative format: in a very brief time, brands can summarise their entire campaign through a brief visual including sound, empowering them to articulate their message clearly before the consumer moves on. Another fundamental of animated advertising is captured in how it helps you to improve your communication with potential customers. After all – not everyone enjoys reading.

The Benefits of Animation for Marketing and Advertising

The benefits of animation for advertising and marketing are vast. We’ve pulled out some of the winning points:

  • Create a lasting impression: Nothing creates a lasting and memorable impression like a beautifully crafted, brightly coloured animation. Consider some of the most memorable advertising campaigns you have seen and ask yourself – did this brand use animation, real-life footage or even a combination of both?
  • Simplify complex topics: One of the greatest advantages of animation is how it can simplify and articulate concepts that may be highly complex or unusual to the average consumer. At ProfileTree, we’ve had numerous examples of clients offering a niche product or service. In many of these cases, we’ve found that animation can succinctly illustrate the goals of a business in a way which is visually appealing and enjoyable to watch. A great example is an animation we produced for Brexit Plan, Ireland’s Brexit advisory service. Navigating companies through the complexity of Brexit, including its many financial and economic obstacles involves pages of legislation and a keen legal eye. We produced the below animation as a ‘jargon-buster’ – check it out.
  • Harness the power of nostalgia: This is one of the more understated benefits of animation for marketing and advertising. Many consumers associate animated films and brightly coloured cartoons with happy childhood memories. This type of nostalgia has been proven to be a coping mechanism during times of stress, loneliness and hardship. Inject some positivity into your marketing strategy with high-quality animation that evokes all the right emotions.
  • Improve your user experience: For any business, online or otherwise, their website should place user experience (UX) at the core of its offering. Nowadays, consumers want to experience online shopping that is simple, accessible and quick to bring them to relevant information. By using a brief animation, you can provide your target audience with the information they need, guiding them straight to the point of purchase. In a nutshell, marketing animations typically lead to increased engagement and an improved communication of important information. For anyone in any doubt, consider this statistic from Forbes: using a video, including animations, can increase conversions by 80% or more.  
  • Boost your social: the digital nature of animation makes it a perfect fit for your site – regardless of the industry your business is involved in. However, animation really is ideal for social media marketing. But why? Social media marketing content must be short, sweet and to-the-point. It must visually engage the user and persuade them to click through to your site in an instant. Animation offers a great opportunity to achieve just that. An interesting fact is that over 85% of videos watched on Facebook are on mute. This proves that visual explanations are all important. After all, who really has time to watch every video on their newsfeed?
  • Personalise your message: Across each and every sector of industry, advertising and marketing campaigns are becoming increasingly personalised and increasingly automated. Email marketing is targeting more people on a personal level, whilst social media ads harness meta data to target us with advertisements that mean something to us. That same approach is being applied to animation, with companies creating several versions of one core animation, tailored to individual followers or subscribers. Personalised animation allows you to create personalised content by syncing data (like names, for example), from a spreadsheet. Not only is this cost effective – it’s awesome.
  • Animation is cheaper: Noone is saying animation is cheap. However, it’s certainly cheaper than a professional video advertisement, where you may have to recruit writers, actors, camera operators and editors. Meanwhile, a brief piece of animated video content can deliver the same message at a fraction of the effort, often with better results to boot. Video marketing certainly has its place, and sometimes it’s absolutely essential. However, before you fork out company funds, ask yourself if an explainer video would actually be more effective.

The benefits of animation are plentiful, and we love seeing how these benefits translate to real results for our clients here at ProfileTree. But what kinds of animations are out there, and what style is best suited to your advertising or marketing campaign?

What Kind of Animation to Use for Your Marketing Campaign

We are kicking off the next section of this guide with some key points on how to use animation style videos effectively in your advertising or marketing campaign. To start, it helps to decide on what type of animation works best for your campaign

  • 2D animation: Normally hand-drawn, 2D animation involves creating movement in a two-dimensional space, and may include characters, effects and backgrounds. These individual drawings are sequenced together. Depending on the nature of your animation, one second of animation may contain up to 24 individual drawings (that equates to 24 fps – ie, 24 frames per second). In most cases, however, animation is driven on a 12fps basis, meaning that there is a unique drawing every two frames. Advancements in animation technology such as Adobe After Effects or Toon Boom Harmony have made it much easier to produce high quality productions in a fraction of the time. Check out this great example from the 1950s for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal, featuring the branded characters Snap, Crackle and Pop.
  • 3D animation: 3D animation involves animating objects that appear in a three-dimensional space. Unlike 2D animation, drawings can be rotated and moved like real objects. This is an extremely popular, albeit highly expensive way of advertising, and is most commonly found in the video gaming and virtual reality industries. This is a highly skilled and complex style of animation, involving extensive work in geometry calculations, surface modeling and virtual reality modeling language (VRML). Check out this example of 3D animation for Compare the Market, who’s meerkat characters have become icons in advertising.
  • Stop motion animation: Stop motion animation is an animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames, giving off the impression that they are exhibition independent motion when the frames are played back. Confused? Think plasticine and clay models, just like those awesome creations we see in Wallace & Gromit, as well as Robot Chicken and a Nightmare Before Christmas. Everyone loves stop motion animation – so it’s no surprise that we see are more likely to see Wallace & Gromit in an advertisement than their actual show.

You may not be decided on which type of animation works best for your advertising or marketing campaign. To help guide your decision, think about budgeting. Can you afford computer-generated imagery and the complexity of 3D animation? Would a simple 2D explainer animation be enough to explain your product or service? Is the cartoonish-nature of stop-motion animation really suitable for your brand or campaign? It pays to carefully consider these questions before making any spending decisions.

Now we understand the three main styles of animation. But how can you ensure that your animation for marketing and advertising is done properly? Keep reading to learn more.

Animation for Advertising and Marketing : How to do it Right 

Depending on the style of animation that you decide to go for, this could work out to be an expensive, yet valuable investment. With that in mind, you’ll want to ensure that you are doing animation right. Keep reading to learn ProfileTree’s top tips on how to do animation for marketing and advertising.

  • Keep it short, keep it sweet: What are today’s consumers notorious for? Their small attention span. Readers and viewers are easily intimidated and turned off by continuous scrolling, bland colours and heavy word counts. The same, however, applies to video. If your video is simply too long, your site’s visitors will simply get bored and leave. Getting your point across in as brief and succinct a way as possible is particularly important in the realm of social media, where the average duration of a video is 10 times shorter than on YouTube. As a rule of thumb, try to aim for an animation or video that is approximately 1 minute in length.
  • Explain yourself: When it comes to animation for advertising and marketing purposes, brief explainer videos are extremely valuable. A short, colourful animation with a professional voiceover speaks volumes, and will be more effective than a bland, lengthy video. As previously mentioned, animation does a terrific job is simplifying complicated subjects – and that’s the entire point of an effective explainer video. Wondering where to start with your animation for advertising and marketing? Get started by explaining your own business in simple and colourful terms. 
  • It pays to be social: When it comes to maximising the impact of your animations, it pays to be social. Humans are visual beings, and marketers and advertisers should be well aware of this fact. The superiority of images to text has been well established, and social media giants have incorporated this awareness into their algorithms. For example, Facebook’s algorithm places a preference of video content, meaning that in addition to being more effective, videos will also offer a higher level or outreach and sales conversions.
  • Bring your landing page to life: Animations look very different to the world around us. As a result, our vision will naturally go straight to it. Landing pages can be a bland, keyword-loaded affair. Bring your landing page to life by including brief animation pages, and inject some colour into your user experience. Don’t just listen to us: research suggests that landing pages with videos typically increase their conversion rates by 80 percent.
  • Remember Your UX: Including animations and other videos on your site will go some way in improving your visitor’s experience. However, it is important to bear in mind that lengthy loading times can do just the opposite. Consider how much material you may already have on that particular page, and ask yourself if an animation will make your loading time faster or slower. The line between having the right level of content and too much is very thin. Weigh up this balance carefully and enjoy increased traffic in the long-run.
  • Don’t limit yourself: Animation videos are extremely versatile. So, don’t limit yourself to using your animations in those obvious pages (think home pages or landing pages, for example). As an example, you can use your animation productions as an element of B2B marketing for presentations and product pitches. You can incorporate animations into your email marketing, making efficient use of space by displaying your product or service as opposed to describing it with written content. Be wary, however, of mobile devices: not all videos translate well via email. Also beware of autoplay, which can easily delay your loading speed.
  • Make a plan: Having at least a rough idea about the objective of your animation can make that critical difference between success and failure. Listen to your creative team’s advice – they may be able to inform your decision and save you some money along the way.
  • Consider your audio: So, you’ve found your animator and designed your video. However, have you considered the audio that’s going to accompany it? When it comes to your animation’s audio, there are a few things to consider. For example, do you have the budget for a professional voice over? Does your animation video actually require a voiceover? Decide upon your voice over and voice acting plans from the very beginning, and incorporate it into your budget. 
  • Consider your script: It’s all well and good having a nice idea about what your animation is going to look like, or what its overall purpose is. However, without a script, you won’t get very far. Consider how much dialogue you want or need in your script. Think about your script carefully, writing into it a basic storyline to keep your viewers watching. If you think you are talented enough to write your own script, that’s great. You can, of course, employ some really talented copywriters and content writers to write your script for you. 

These tips should put you on the right path towards making the right decision for your budget, your brand and your product or service. However, mastering the art of video and animation requires skill, experience and industry-leading expertise. At ProfileTree, our designers, videographers and in-house animation experts are on-hand to deliver content that engages, informs and inspires. Keep reading to learn more about how our animation services can bring your advertising or marketing campaign to exciting new places.

Animation Services at ProfileTree

At ProfileTree, we’ve built our brand and our own success on content that engages, informs and inspires. We have our fingers firmly on the pulse on the latest trends in marketing, and we recognise the value of high-quality animation. We’ve brought animation into several elements of our own advertising and marketing strategy – we’ve even made it a core element of some of our successful internal brands, including LearningMole, a series of animated educational videos teaching kids life’s important lessons on science, maths, geography and more. Check out a recent example of our animation services in this episode, recently translated into Chinese for foreign international schools.

As you can see, LearningMole’s success is built upon beautiful animation, digestible information and entertaining voice acting. Notice how the animation’s story is connected through a script, written with a mastery of English language and storytelling. This is the minimum standard we aim for with each and every one of our animated productions. We’ve built a successful brand on animated content. Now, we wish to deliver similar results for all clients – regardless of your objective or industry. 

We are also big believers in tying animation into wider advertising, marketing and content strategies. After all, we’re a full-service digital agency offering a range of services including content writing & copywriting; web design, web development, voice search marketing, search engine optimisation and more. We offer a holistic approach to marketing, bringing together a diverse and multi-faceted team of creative professionals who drive memorable campaigns that simply nail the project brief.

ProfileTree are an award-winning content marketing agency specialising in web design, content marketing and video production. To find out how animated video can transform the prospects of your marketing or advertising campaign, get in touch with the expert team today to make an enquiry. 

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