When is an Animated Video Production Most Appropriate?

The popularity of animated video within a digital marketing strategy is growing, and whilst it was once limited to those with massive production budgets, improvements in technology mean it is now widely accessible.

Studies have proven that online video is a vital part of your marketing strategy (web visitors are 64%- 85% more likely to purchase after watching a product video, and you are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google if you are using video on your site Forrester, 1/2010) – but with the wealth of video options out there, which is best for your business?

We find that many of our clients come to us confused by the array of video types and need some guidance on understanding what type of video is most suitable for their specific aims. In this article, I will be looking at the pros and cons of animated video, how it can be used most effectively, and when there are better alternatives.

Nowadays, internet visitors want information fast, and this is what has lead to the “video boom”. We have all heard the phrase “a picture speaks a thousand words”, and video allows you to capture, retain and convert visitors to your site.

Animated video communicates through a powerful mix of pictures, motion, text, voice, sound effects and music in a short amount of time, and its’ popularity is on the rise. It can be a great way of increasing your likeability factor – most of us are sceptical the first time we visit a website, and a relaxed, whimsical whiteboard drawing, sketch or animated character can help us lower our guard, and provides an easy-to-watch viewing experience that viewers like and can identify with.

Many animated videos take the form of explainer videos that outline what a business does and how they can solve a problem that a customer may have or they outline how a business is different as Chipotle do so well in this video:

It will also help people to remember your business. The left side of the brain turns thoughts into images, while the right side ignites emotion and feelings.

Animation, therefore, is far more likely to appeal to right-side thinkers – and if it is entertaining, they will remember it.

However, the use of Motion Graphics within Live Action video can serve the same purpose to some extent, and the truth is, both animation and live action videos have their strengths in conveying diverse messages and can achieve different objectives.

The Pros of Animated Video Production

Animated video allows far greater flexibility – your imagination is your only limitation. If you wanted your CEO flying across the sky with your company banner, for example, it would take a massive budget to achieve the required special effects, yet a simple drawing can convey the same message at a fraction of the cost (and your CEO gets to keep his feet firmly on the ground!).

Simplify your message
If you have a complicated product, an animated video is a great way of simplifying your message, and if the subject matter is dry, it can create an emotional connection by adding an element of fun. People prefer to learn through audio/visual methods, rather than reading through pages of text – and if they understand what you are offering them, how it will benefit them and are enjoying the experience at the same time, you are onto a winner.

Tell a story
If you are offering a service, rather than a product, animated video can be a wise choice, as it allows you to tell a story and solve a problem that would be more difficult to portray using live action video. Here is an example of a video we made that takes the viewer on an animated journey, and lightens a dry subject:

Build your Brand
Animation also allows you to maintain a strong brand identity – logos, corporate colours, fonts and the general “look” of the brand, can all be incorporated into the artwork. There are, however situations where live action video will be more appropriate to achieving your goals. One of the greatest strengths of live action video is its ability to create a connection between the viewer and the person on screen. A charismatic, captivating on-screen personality will draw people in and create a rapport and sense of trust in your brand.

When is an Animated Video Production Less Appropriate?

There are some occasions where a different type of video production may be more appropriate than an animated video; here are some of those situations or factors for opting for another kind of web video.

The human touch
People relate to people. If, for example, you were a homeless charity whose goal were to increase donations, a video showing someone sleeping outside in the snow, wrapped in a meagre blanket, would be a far greater tug on the heartstrings than a cartoon drawing of the same.

Testimonial videos
Testimonial videos are another example of where animated video would not be appropriate. These are tremendously powerful within a marketing strategy, as it puts a face to the testimonial which makes it far more believable.

Products, people, places
If your message focuses on existing products, people or places – generally, live action video is a better choice. The Spanish Tourist board, for example, would want to show real people enjoying the beautiful scenery, sunny climes and lively atmosphere of the destination.:

If you are in an industry where the viewer is buying a physical end product, showing the finished product in action will boost viewer engagement and their comfort level with the product. With live video you can show a real-life demonstration – when someone is researching a product, they want to see the finished product in action. but with that said animated videos can be incredibly effective in showing how something works or outlining a process or steps to using a complex product.

Live action video also works brilliantly if you have a strong human face to the brand. Richard Branson, for example, has been appearing in the Virgin TV and Online ads. His name is synonymous with the Virgin brand, and by adding a touch of self-deprecating humour to the adverts, Virgin have increased the likeability of the brand. They have taken it from being a cold, faceless, corporate image to one that is associated with the dynamic, charming founder. At the end of the day, passion speaks volumes – and whether it is a charismatic CEO in front of the camera, or a dedicated, caring customer service representative – putting a face and personality to your brand can help build a relationship with potential customers.

Both animated and live action videos have their pros and cons, and when it comes down to creating a video marketing strategy, your customers and their needs hold the answer. With all types of video, the key is in creating content that is useful and engaging, which in turn turns visitors into customers. Using video animation to promote your business allows you to break through the boundaries of reality, and is a fun, quirky way of engaging your visitors. Just be careful to think your objectives through carefully!


  1. Reply


    May 18, 2013

    Martin, this is the best compilation of video data that I have seen in one place. Thank you so much. I’ll share some more with you from Google Engages research.

    • Reply


      May 18, 2013

      Thanks Victor, I’ve added some of your suggestions to the post.

      • Reply


        May 18, 2013

        Thanks for sharing. Another angle that can be made is using video for reputation management.

  2. Reply


    May 18, 2013

    Great points you’ve got here! I think as time pushes along, the value of video will become undeniable. Large brands have been able to leverage video for years- using their money + television as a medium. The internet has changed the landscape enough to allow any-old-schmuck with a webcam to start to be a video-broadcaster! It’s lowered the bar of technological feat, so people who can produce great content.

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