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 am planning to give an iPhone 6s as a gift for this Valentine’s Day.”

—Male, 31, NY

Almost 2/3 of Millennials block ads online, according to one report, and MediaPost recently spoke to young media consumers to find out why. One 19-year-old wishes for digital ads “that [are] barely noticeable,” and suggests to marketers to “stop any ads that hinder the speed and ease of your browsing.” Another 25-year-old tries to support web sites whose livelihood depends on ad revenue by being “more cognizant of which sites are showing me ads to be obtrusive versus showing me ads to support a valuable, but free, service.” (MediaPost)

2016 started strong for Millennials. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in January, the unemployment rate fell to an eight-year low (4.9%), and it was the second best job growth month ever for 25-34-year-olds, with 429,000 jobs added for this group between December 2015 and January 2016. That’s the highest employment growth since January 2000, when the tech bubble was at its peak and 1.166 million jobs were added. This is a positive sign for the generation, who has been severely impacted by the financial crisis.
(Business Insider

Love is in the air and Millennials are pulling out their wallets. A recent study on finance and relationships revealed that 18-34-year-olds are planning to spend an average $290 on Valentine’s Day activities—almost $100 more than older respondents. Millennial men are planning to spend the most, an average of $371. Ypulse’s Valentine’s Day survey found that the 71% of males 13-33-years-old are buying gifts for significant others/spouses, and mom is second on their list. (NerdWallet

Playboy has put some clothes on to attract Millennials. The brand’s makeover includes more tasteful photos and short-form articles, changes meant to improve sales after years of losing “cultural cachet.” Though the internet, and the wide availability of nudity it offers, certainly hurt Playboy’s bottom line, it also may have inspired their demure new approach. A 2014 redesign to make their website “more PG-13” led to a 258% increase in traffic, and lowered readers’ average age from 47 to 30. With most web traffic stemming from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it also makes sense to “play by those networks’ rules”—which means no nudity allowed. (New York Post

Taco Bell’s $5 million secret is out after their big reveal duringthis Sunday’s Super Bowl introduced the world to the quesalupa, “a crunchy quesadilla folded and filled with taco ingredients.” Sound like something you’d want to order? If the answer’s no, it might be because they didn’t make it for you—they’re targeting the next generation. According to the head of the brand’s Insights Lab: “We study gen Z not just because we want to target them, but because we want to get ahead in culture and we want to predict what's going to happen. And also because youth is what our brand DNA is about." (Eater

Quote of the Day: “The issue I am most passionate about is LGBTQ, because in the words of Dr. Seuss ‘A person is a person, no matter how small.’” –Female, 18, KY

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