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Gif: The Unlikeliest Comeback Kid


If you’ve noticed more GIFs floating around the internet, that’s because in the last few months social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have tweaked their platforms to make room for more short-form video.

In particular, brands are looking to these looping clips as a way to communicate with consumers using only visuals—like the popular use of emojis and memes. Some video clip enthusiasts even believe GIFs offer a new kind of communication, which merges content with culture to generate new ideas.    

Adam Leibsohn, Giphy’s chief operating officer said, “They’re [consumers] not using words anymore…there’s an opportunity for that culture to come from a brand.” 

Companies like Giphy and Tumbler are taking advantage of this idea—providing today’s holy grail of content to marketers, while larger agencies are expanding production studios and in-house talent.  

Paramount Picture, for example, brought Giphy’s team in to work exclusively on branded content leading up to the summer release of the latest Terminator movie. But not all GIF content works singularly across the board says Megan Wahtera, a marketer from Paramount Pictures 

"In terms of the animated GIF, we pay close attention to what content works on which platforms,” said Wahtera. “It's not as simple as throwing a 30 or 15 second spot up or even a quick video edit.” 

Some companies like Paramount Pictures have enlisted help; while others have built internal structures to more easily jump on opportunities that work best for the budding content category. In fact, owning the GIF-making process is ideal for companies that can afford it, said Brian Chen, digital associate and creative director and Innocean. 

"It's a potentially fleeting moment," said Chen. "The quicker you can get with the quality and output of these GIFs, the better." 

Just six months ago, Resource/Ammirati had little GIF work to do. Today, animated loops make up 10 to 15 percent of the agency’s social work for brands like DiGiorno Pizza and Tidy Cats. DiGiorno Pizza has seen considerable increases in engagement across their social media platforms. 

"We typically get a few hundred retweets and favorites,” said Luke Oppliger, director of social content at Resource/Ammirati, “but we are seeing GIFs in the thousands."

One of the only challenges posed by GIF content is the investment of time and resources it takes to produce the short videos. Some studios are recommending paid media content behind branded GIFs to ensure companies get a better return on the investment.   

Although GIFs have been around for years, current trends foreshadow and even larger comeback—with growing potential across nearly ever platform. 



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