Business Rants

Why Animated Advertising?

  • December 19, 2012

As computer generated animation becomes ever more common in the media, the question of its effectiveness in advertising is a natural one. Given my involvement in the field my perspective is biased, but I assert that animation is a strong candidate for your advertising dollars. Here’s why:


As shown by various cognitive studies, animation in ads—such as banner ads on web pages—improves viewer engagement, recall, and click-through rates (the all-important metric). Creators of children’s cartoons have long understood that the more vibrant colors, sometimes-outlandish appearance, and vivid action of animated characters grab and hold the viewer’s attention more readily than more mundane sequences captured through standard filming. Due to the nature of our survival instincts the human eye is naturally drawn to movement, and to what stands out from the typical background “noise.”


Actors are expensive: between wages, travel, upkeep, and even insurance, live production costs mount rapidly. Location costs raise that level even higher, especially if you need to build sets. Animation, by contrast, does cost but the bottom line is usually significantly lower and much more predictable. In some cases the characters created for an animated project become the actual property of the client and can be used to generate future marketing potential without the need of a costly contract with a live actor. Compared to the overhead imposed by filming and production equipment and the people to operate them, animators work with a much lower-cost tool set and a smaller staff. Costs can be reduced even further by avoiding “middle men” and dealing directly with local animation studios—compare that to the red tape associated with acting guilds.


Through animation scenes can be created that might not even be possible using live filming. If the subject is a new product, models can quickly be created without the need of actual manufacture. If changes need to be made to a sequence there’s no need for a re-shoot: just make the changes and run a new render. If a live set is still desirable animated actors can readily be inserted into the same stock footage—again, without the need for a re-shoot to accomodate necessary changes in a sequence. Outdoor “virtual scenes” can be “shot” at any time, regardless of real-world lighting or weather concerns.


In live-action filming the actual footage must be shot before production can begin. Sets must be transported and assembled, actors positioned between takes, lighting conditions evaluated, and so on. While some initial 3D modeling must take place before animated sequences can be rendered, many studios leverage libraries of existing models which can be used with minor adjustments. Virtual sets, once created, exist forever with no need for setup and teardown. Virtual actors are always in place. Once a sequence is rendered the results are immediately available for viewing and evaluation. In general, the turnaround for animated production is much quicker than that for live filming.

In summary, animated advertising is effective, cost-efficient, flexible, and timely. I strongly urge you to consider these factors as you make advertising decisions—and buy local!

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