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: “The issue I most care about during this presidential election is how we are going to resolve this massive student loan problem.”—Male, 23, PA

Hermés is conforming to the new definition of luxury by being more accessible to young, “fashion-obsessed” consumers. The brand has launched a “colorfully-designed” and Instagrammable space stocked with entry-level pieces—including their slimmer Twilly scarf that is priced around $160—at Nordstrom’s Seattle flagship. To allow the consumer the ability “to engage and have fun and try things on without the intimidation,” products are out in the open on “moveable hooks on magnetized walls” instead of behind glass. (Racked)

Millennial entrepreneurs are leading the way for digital advertising. A Magisto survey on Millennial small to medium-sized business owners, revealed that they are spending more than half of their marketing budget on digital media, and are three times more likely than Boomers to spend the majority of their media budget on digital advertising. Social media and video are the main focus for Millennial marketers: 68% say they depend on social media ads to spread brand awareness, 60% leverage social media ads to create revenue, and 88% currently use or want to use video for digital advertising. (Business Wire

A new chatbot wants to monitor kids’ online activity, and educate them as well. Oyoty, targeted for children ages 12 and under, is a friendly bot that links itself to social media accounts and keeps watch of public postings. When Oyoty flags content for a particular issue—for example, a provocative selfie or sharing of personal data—it starts a two-way conversation with the child and explains why they should think twice before posting. To fulfill the aim of educating and empowering children when it comes to online safety, the act of editing or deleting the content is left to the child to execute. (TechCrunch

The digital-native generation is thinking twice before sharing their personal data. A LexisNexis survey on Millennials in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, and Brazil, found that young consumers are hesitant to share their personal data, presenting an issue for businesses who “need to gather critical data for better fraud prevention.” In the U.S. about two-thirds of Millennials are worried about identity theft and data breaches—which was “surprisingly lower than most of their global counterparts, of whom more than 75 percent are concerned.” (FinextraPYMNTS

Finance publication Barron’s has launched a Millennial-focused site to hook in the next generation of investors. With a focus on quick daily stock analysis, video, and personal finance stories, Barron’s Next aims to give young consumers “an easy way to understand the economy and begin to take their first steps as investors.” Like S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Barron’s Next also offers Next 50—a snapshot of stocks from brands that “young consumers love,” like Urban Outfitters and Tesla. (Digiday)  

Quote of the Day: “For Halloween I’m dressing up as Erlich Bachman from the HBO show Silicon Valley.”—Male, 24, IN

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