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: “You want me to list every concert I’ve been to in the past year? Are you nuts? I've been to like 30 so far this year.”

—Male, 29, NY

Forget the ping pong tables and free food, Millennials really want a tech-smart workplace. A new study from Dell and Intel has revealed that 80% of 18-34-year-old workers prefer tech-forward perks like augmented/virtual reality than other low-tech perks at their workplace. They are so driven by digital capabilities that 42% say they wouldn’t hesitate to leave their jobs if the environment wasn’t up to par with what they consider “smart.” About three in five say they expect technology to become advanced enough to longer need face-to-face interactions in the future. (Parent Herald)

Branded content is not only a way to reach the ad-skipping generation, it’s also producing results. A recent Nielsen analysis found that branded content generates 21% more brand recall than a pre-roll ad, and is giving brands a boost in perception: affinity for branded content averages 28% in comparison to 18% for pre-roll, and purchase intent is 14% for branded content compared to 11% for pre-roll. The analysis also found that 40% of consumers say they “probably will” or “definitely will” view branded content on future TV/video episodes. (MediaPost

Victoria’s Secret is making a not-so-subtle play to attract Nike consumers to their brand with Victoria Sport, their new athleisure division. The brand has been slowly shifting its image from sexy to athletic to coincide with Millennials’ preference for “being fit [and] strong,” and buying clothes that reflect that. On the new line’s website, Victoria Secret calls out Nike with a quote from one of their Angels saying, “When I tried these, I threw out all my Nike bras." (Business Insider

“Brand love is alive and well with the Dew nation." After Mountain Dew asked fans to vote on which limited-edition flavor should become a permanent fixture in stores, Baja Blast or Pitch Black, a three-month long voting campaign inspired crazy stunts and drew in nearly 5.8 million votes. To encourage votes, the brand hosted an event inspired by ‘90s favorite GUTS Aggro Crag, and challenged fans on social media to bathe in or dye their hair the color of the beverage they wanted to win. Fans complied, and in the end Pitch Black was the ultimate winner with 50.5% of the votes. (Adweek

Millennial small business owners (SBOs) are “in it for the long haul.” A study from Wells Fargo revealed that 80% of 19-35-year-old SBOs plan to grow their business for many years and eventually pass them along to their children, and nearly 60% say that being passionate about their work is what drove them to start their business, compared to about half of older SBOs. Millennial SBOs are also more willing to put it all on the line: 67% are willing to take financial risks to get them there, while only 54% of older SBOs said the same. (Entrepreneur,The Street

“I like Beyoncé, because she's a force to be reckoned with in most aspects of her life. She shows how to be a strong female.”—Female, 26, CO

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