Toronto-based Flixel’s expertise is creating ‘living photos’ that you can watch in just a few seconds. And it didn’t take Flixel’s CEO Philippe LeBlanc much more than that to net the $160,000 grand prize at Montreal’s International Startup Festival last weekend.

He had just 90 seconds for the first pitch. Making it to the second round, he had three minutes to present Flixel’s product in fuller detail. The startup, founded in 2011, creates software for iOS and Mac that lets users create a “cinemagraph” – a video file in which part of the frame is frozen, and part of the frame moves. You can even use them for your Facebook profile photo.

“I guess it went really well considering they awarded us first prize,” LeBlanc tells ITBusiness.ca. “It’s really clear why the product is valuable… it helps advertisers deliver better results for Facebook ads.”

In April, Flixel was named an official Facebook partner and named during the social networking giant’s F8 developer conference. It’s one of a few options businesses and consumers can use to create a cinemagraph profile picture. That’s just the start of the working relationship with Facebook, LeBlanc says, and Flixel is working to reach all 3 million of its advertisers.

“Facebook is looking to continue to give their advertisers great video editing tools and cinemagraphs fall under that category,” he says. “Our goal is for cinemagraphs to be part of the digital marketing mix.”

Mecedes-Benz is one example of a brand that’s experimented with cinemagraph.

Beyond Facebook, the medium works well on Twitter and Instagram too. Cinemagrams can also be sent in an email via GIF format, or played on a digital display – as has been seen to huge effect at New York’s Times Square or Toronto’s Dundas Square.

Part of the benefit brands see from using Cinemagraphs on Facebook is an increased click-through rate, he says. While video has become more popular on Facebook for ads lately, most get played without the sound turned on. Viewers spend an average of three seconds watching before moving on, he says, which isn’t a very good use of marketing budget considering that videos can be expensive to produce.

With Cinemagraphs, “it gets your message across in the first three seconds and it holds your attention longer than a photo,” LeBlanc says. “It’s the perfect medium for Facebook ads.”

Another benefit is that Facebook charges less for advertising that performs well, encouraging advertisers to make engaging creative content.

Flixel should know, as it has been using its own technology to advertise itself and growing quickly, LeBlanc says. The money won from the Montreal festival will be put right into acquiring new users.

 

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