graphic showing an ad that has creative which includes motion

Creative Format Trends: How Motion Can Move Your Creatives from Good to Outstanding

Jessica is a Team Lead, Creative Strategist at StackAdapt and is passionate about helping brands get the biggest bang for their media buck by utilizing innovative and data driven ad design.

Creative design is an art (pun intended) and sometimes capturing new ideas in your ad formats can be tricky. Trends in ad formats and creative design are constantly evolving, especially as we discover new ways to enhance the viewer experience.

Animations are a great way to captivate your audience and get a more detailed message across in a small space and time frame. Generally, animated banner ads will outperform static ads, as long as they don’t distract from the message. Video ads are an example of lengthy animations that work well for digital advertising, as they are known to be excellent media for telling a compelling brand story. That said, not all advertisers have the assets, or the budget, to run video campaigns and so, for those who cannot run video, employing animation in display ads is a way to convey a more dynamic story.

Think of the animations as elements that enhance your display ads, by bringing them to life. Subtle animation, specifically motion, is a trend we’ve noticed that can really set your campaigns apart.

What kind of motion?

While big, flashy movements can be cool, they do not always guarantee an effective ad. Sometimes larger animations can appear cheesy or may not be suited to your brand or audience. In those cases, subtle or photo-realistic motion—a wave in an ocean shot, or smoke billowing from a BBQ—may be a better way to stand out from the crowd.

When does motion work best?

Motion can be used in a variety of scenarios, as long as it is used in moderation.You don’t want all your ads to have motion in them, just for the sake of having it. This is meant to be a top funnel tactic—to attract the eye of the prospect and be memorable, without intruding on their browsing experience too much. The concept of photo-realistic motion in your ads can be that differentiator to catch the eye of your audience. We’ll use the example of smoke in motion to illustrate how that might look.

For a restaurant trying to showcase a menu item, incorporating motion could upgrade the creative from just a flat image, to one that evokes emotion from the viewer. If the food is steaming, like it would likely be seen in a video ad, the image will appear more realistic, appetizing and might even have the viewer salivating!

Another example would be cannabis ads. There are quite a few restrictions when it comes to cannabis advertising. Due to the fact that it is such a sensitive industry—even more so than alcohol and gambling—it warrants extra attention from advertisers when building creatives. For example, you cannot depict someone consuming the product, or cannot use language explaining the benefits that come with use. You can, however, use subtle imagery that relates to the product itself, for example, smoke. A cannabis dispensary can use smoke to provide the illusion of the product in use, without breaking any rules or regulations set out by the exchanges or the geo in which the ad is shown. It might look something like this:

Why should I include motion?

Motion or other forms of interactive or animated elements work to focus attention on specific elements of the ad including copy and the call to action. Subtle animations will add just enough effect to get the viewer to look twice. The added animation lends itself to the story being told in the ad, without becoming distracting and potentially unappealing.

Sometimes the best creatives spark interest, in the most subtle of ways:

Other creatives may have just enough slow moving elements to make the viewer question whether anything was moving at all:

How can I decide what should be in motion?

Start by thinking about the imagery you want to include in your ad. Consider the items involved and how you can manipulate some static portions. More importantly, make sure whatever you’ve put in motion is relevant to your ad. If you’re advertising a clothing store, and you have a woman in the image, you could either have her dress flutter or her hair—you don’t want smoke in the background of this type of image, because it simply does not fit. What part of the picture are you looking to draw attention to? Or more importantly, where is the most important text placement? You want all aspects of motion to complement the text you are trying to convey in the ad—not overshadow it. The ad should be attractive and functional without the motion first—the motion is the icing on the cake.

The following ad was created initially conceptualized with still water, and could be shown with the still image if needed:

The movement in the water was added as a subtle way of drawing the viewer’s attention, without overpowering the ad itself:

The ad with motion demonstrates how a small addition to the creative design can draw the viewer’s eye just that much more. As you can see the same technique can be applied to different creative types and brands.

How can I put my ads in motion?

Our Creative Studio team is equipped with the knowledge and skills to bring your ads to life with various motion related techniques. Whether that means creating new ads or leveraging existing creatives, we can help.

Want to run exceptional programmatic campaigns? Request a demo to learn more about StackAdapt.

You may also like: