Written by Benn Tan, Joey Peng and Erasmus William.

Google experiments with tool that automatically converts web pages into videos

Google believes that businesses have already spent a lot of time and money on building websites, and that these contents can be repurposed to further save time and money. As part of its efforts to utilize AI to produce multimedia content, the tech behemoth is testing and working on a new “research prototype pipeline” that converts websites into short videos that can be used as ads. 

Google explains, “URL2Video extracts assets (text, images, or videos) and their design styles (including fonts, colors, graphical layouts, and hierarchy) from HTML sources and organizes the visual assets into a sequence of shots, while maintaining a look-and-feel similar to the source page. Given a user-specified aspect ratio and duration, it then renders the repurposed materials into a video that is ideal for product and service advertising.”

The tool automatically chooses assets from a URL and decides the “temporal and visual presentation” of each. It also uses common video editing styles, “including content hierarchy, constraining the amount of information in a shot and its time duration, providing consistent color and style for branding, and more.” The tool is able to do this, by using methods from interview studies with designers familiar in web and video ad creation.

By analyzing the content on a webpage, the tool is able to choose important text and images, retain their styles and organize them to specifications input by users. URL2Video does this by extracting the page’s document object model (DOM) information and related multimedia materials. Based on how these are structured, the pipeline then puts them together hierarchically.

Users can provide restrictions such as video duration (seconds) and aspect ratio before reviewing the results, reordering materials, color and font adjustments before generating the final output.

To date, Google has found that the tool has been effective in its workflow and supporting designers by “bootstrapping the video process”. The feature is still experimental, and it is not yet certain when it will be available to the public.

Facebook is Testing Options to Add Motion Effects to Still Images in Feed

Your regular New Feed might look different soon – Facebook is now testing some new visual effects options for still images posted to News Feed, which add simulated, video-like movement to your pictures.

The new options provide two sets of visual effects tools for your still image uploads:

When you apply this option, it then creates a zoom or focus like effect to your images. This is similar to the ‘Animate’ option that Facebook added for Stories posts earlier this year.

In addition to this, Facebook also added simulated 3D for still image uploads in February, giving users another way to add another moving element to still images.

The logic behind this: users are more drawn to animation or movements and are more likely to engage with formats like video compared to still images. To maximise user interest, Facebook is looking to provide more eye-catching, engaging tools like this, which ultimately incentivises people to post and scroll more.

At this point the effects are fairly basic, but could also provide another element for brand Pages to consider in their product visuals.

But hold your horses – these tools are not widely available yet as they are still undergoing testing.

This update certainly helps add a little ‘something’ to your feed. It’s not the craziest or latest idea, but will more likely than not help in boosting engagement.

Snapchat Lets Creators Publicly Display Their Follower Counts


Snap Inc. has now put Snapchat back into an influencer platform again. According to a Snap Inc. spokesperson, they confirmed the new feature where creators can now publicly display their follower counts. The spokesperson went on to mention that they have listened to Snapchat community feedback and are giving creators the option to make subscriber counts visible on their public profiles. 

The follower count metric display can be toggled on and off as needed in their settings. Increasingly, Snapchat has pared back in its opposition to more common social media norms in order to maximize engagement and interaction within the app.

Disclaimer: Featured image taken from Search Engine Journal.