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 like shopping at Staples because they have good prices on supplies I need for school [and] electronics or other devices I may need.” –Female, 17, ID

For urban Millennials, getting married doesn’t necessarily mean saying goodbye to roommates. Members of the generation continue to mature into adulthood in an untraditional way, and with rent increasing dramatically, some are choosing living as husband and wife and roomie over a moving to smaller place, or having a longer commute. This acceptance of communal living could be a reflection of the rise of the sharing economy, as it becomes the norm to share everything from rides to the kitchen. (New York Times)

Although most of today’s 18-24-year-olds were still in high school or college during the Great Recession, it’s still affecting their career choices today. A survey from Way to Work found that 70% would prefer a stable job over a job they were passionate about but offered little security, and one third said finding that secure job was their top concern. 34% of Millennials named financial stability as their greatest aspiration. (Forbes)

According to some teens, “MTV is dying.” Hoping to reverse that sentiment, MTV will be introducing eight new series, and has 85 more in development, that are meant to reflect Millennials’ “unbridled optimism.” Upcoming series include a reality show about YouTube star Todrick Hall and a scripted comedy around Vine star Logan Paul—MTV likely has their fingers crossed these social media stars will bring their fans to the network. (Adweek)

YouTube channel AwesomenessTV has successfully hooked hundreds of thousands of young viewers, and now they’re setting their sights on a new audience: Millennial moms. Their new network Awestruck will premiere later this year, offering a wide range of female-centric series, from comedy to drama to talk shows featuring both online stars and Hollywood celebrities. The network hopes that young moms will turn to them as they consume more online video content. (StreamDaily)

What does it take to become “Insta-famous?” Sometimes it just takes being photographed in the right place at the right time. Sixteen-year-old Charlotte D’Alessio amassed tens of thousands of followers in just a few days when a photo of her and her best friend, model Josie Canseco, went viral at Coachella. From there Canseco and D’Alessio appeared on celebrities’ feeds, the Coachella account, and new fans’ Tumblr posts. The girls’ viral status speaks to how quickly notoriety can amass for young consumers in the age or micro-fame. (BuzzFeed)

Want to know Millennials' favorite fast food chain? How often they're dining out? What they order? Our most recent topline and date on 13-32-year-olds gave Gold subscribers the inside scoop on all their food and dining preferences. We deliver in-depth tables and a visual report to them every two weeks, covering another aspect of young consumers' behaviors, beliefs, and more. (Ypulse)

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