Why GIFs Became the Sweetheart of the Internet

 

Is it too early to crown the GIF the internet star of 2013? Though the format has been in use since the early days of websites, there has been a proliferation of GIF use among young consumers of late that has pushed the once lowly image file into the spotlight. What is it about the GIF format that has captured the hearts of hoards of Tumblr users, internet commenters, and viral bloggers?

For readers who aren’t familiar with the GIF, they are short, endlessly-looped video files that appear to play a few seconds of action on eternal replay. The New Republic wrote an extensive history of the medium and its rise from 90s junk animation to art form. Today, GIFs have become an integral part of the way internet users (often led by Gen Y) talk to one another. They appear as reactions to blog articles, are created and shared by fan communities on Tumblr and elsewhere to celebrate moments in TV and movies, are emailed as exclamations and emotional outbursts. In short, they have become the second language of the internet.

So why GIFs, and why now? Millennials, always a very image-reliant generation, have continued to gravitate towards visual communication. With the strengthening popularity of Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and Snapchat, we could almost see them reaching a tipping point where visuals actually usurp text communication in common use. When you are a group who communicates by majority in visuals, those visuals have to evolve in order to fully capture the emotion you are trying to convey. (We saw a similar evolution in the simple emoticon, which began as a finite combination of punctuations and have become a legion of animated faces and objects stored on your phone for easy access and hieroglyphic-esque messaging.) Layer on top of this the fact that Millennials have also…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I thought that Kate Spade had the best Cyber Monday deals this past December.” –Female, 25, CA

Electronic dance music, EDM, has been on the rise for a few years, but if you’re unfamiliar with the upbeat, untraditional, and loud music genre and culture, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself here. Although most EDM listeners are under 25, the fastest growing segment of new listeners are Millennials between 25 and 34. EDM is already a $6 billion dollar industry, and as it continues to grow and go more mainstream, brands like Jeep, Ford, Red Bull, and Trident have begun to tap into EDM communities, advertising on EDM.com and SoundCloud. Though some brands may be wary of EDM’s somewhat wild rep, its massive growth as a genre and industry shouldn’t be ignored. (Adweek

With 22.8 million 18-34-year-olds watching, there is a considerable amount of pressure for brands advertising during the Super Bowl to appeal to Millennials. But one firm’s survey found that 82% of Millennials said past ads are usually “just ok,” “disappointing,” “plain awful,” “offensive” and/or “not as good as they used to be,” making the big game a big missed opportunity. Commercials like Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” may receive 54 million views, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to loyal consumers. What works are ads rooted in consumer insight: “Dos Equis, and other Millennial favorites like Chipotle, Old Spice and Dove, win because they know who their audience is and they deliver the unexpected, rather than blandly pandering to everyone.” (Forbes)

While it used to all be in the name, now brands need to prove themselves as tech savvy to appeal to young consumers. A recent study reports that 52% of Millennials say “the technology a brand uses is the most important factor when making a purchase.” Technology is impacting young consumers’ relationship with brands because tools like apps streamline processes and personalize experiences, two characteristics that are very important to Millennial shoppers. The app store also acts as “digital-word-of-mouth,” where over half are discovering new brands and using reviews as a trusted filter. Over a third of Millennials said they would “remain loyal to brands using up to date technology” and that “technology adds value to a brand.” (Wall Street Journal)

We know Millennials care about what they’re putting in their bodies and where it is coming from: a 2014 Ypulse monthly survey found that 62% of 13-34-year-olds say eating and drinking healthy is extremely important to them, and 68% say that a local label will make them more likely to buy a product. But grocery stores hoping to attract and create relationships with Millennials need to know that it’s not just about products, but also “about authentic, real service.” Experts say listening to and connecting with the new generation of grocery shoppers will be a key factor in attracting them. For example, grocers could provide guidance for those young shoppers just learning how to cook. (Super Market News)

Agender is in. British retailer Selfridges is launching the Agender project, a gender neutral collection described as “a fashion exploration of the masculine, the feminine and the interplay … found in between” Several British designers who create gender neutral fashions will be included, including “Lady Gaga’s favorite,” Nicola Formichetti, and clothes will be partnered with music, photography, and film with gendered themes. Mannequins displaying the looks will not have male or female features. Rather than being “fashion forward,” Selfridges feels the project is simply “of the moment” and “responding to a cultural shift that is happening right now.” (International Business Times)

Need to know what this generation is thinking about right now? We may not be mind readers, but Silver and Gold Ypulse.com subscribers have access to the Live Instant Q&A Stream of questions being asked and answered in our mobile, social Q&A network in real-time. The questions that they ask each other can be more revealing than the questions that we ask them, and give you an unfiltered look into the trends and concerns of young consumers as they are happening. (Ypulse)

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