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: “My favorite ad was a Forever 21 online banner with a plus-sized model that was showing off a new swimsuit design and hat. I liked it so much because it was simple, fresh, and relatable. There was nothing extreme about it, and I could totally see myself in the model's place.” –Female, 22, CA

Mobile devices are making Millennial car buyers more self-sufficient than their parents. According to a study by auto shopping site Edmunds.com, 41% of 18-34-year-olds say that they use their phones and tablets to read vehicle reviews, while only 20% of other adults do the same. They are also more likely than older shoppers to use smartphones to compare prices, find cars for sale, and text dealers. However, this does not mean that dealerships will become obsolete: 64% still desire face-to-face interaction when it comes to sealing the deal, and 96% would want to test drive a vehicle before buying. (MediaPost)

Young consumers avidly share video clips and love “snackable” content. But it takes some expertise and effort to actually create snippets of video from favorite shows and entertainment, not to mention the fact that making them is not strictly legal—until now. New app Whipclip is partnering with music labels and TV networks like ABC, CBS, FOX, and VH1 to let fans create their own video clips of content up that they can then share on social media, by email, or via text. An algorithm will pick up on users’ preferences and share promoted clips in the future. Tonight Whipclip is promoting their debut with theComedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber, which could be “one of the more social TV events of the spring,” and has had almost 4 billion social-media impressions before even airing. (streamdailyAd Age)

As Millennials become the majority of parents, their ideal is to share the childcare load, and they expect marketing tropes to change with them and start acknowledging dads’ contributions. It’s not just to make them feel included, Millennial dads have real spending power and are making more household purchasing decisions than previous generations. Research has found that 80% of Millennial dads are claiming primary or shared grocery shopping responsibilities, compared to 45% of dads overall. For the new generation of papas, “being a devoted father is a badge of honor,” and 49% say they are mainly responsible for planning their kids’ activities, versus only 23% of dads over 35-years-old who say the same. (Ad Age)

We can keep adding to the list of things Millennials are being blamed for: Macy’s CFO says the generation’s love of Netflix is one reason for the retailer’s weak sales. Confused? The theory it seems is that young consumers are spending on digital services rather than products in stores—however, data does not seem to back that idea. Regardless, Macy’s is working to get Millennials into stores and onto its site more often, and plans to focus on weddings to attract them as they head down the aisle, and hopefully “keep [them] after they get married and grow up.” (MarketWatch)

The birds and the bees conversation is, more often than not, awkward for both parents and kids. But new workshops are trying to make “the talk” more fun, candid, and informative. Great Conversations hosts honest, entertaining, and engaging sex-ed classes that speak to two generations at once to make the topic more approachable for families. The course “For Girls Only” brought in 14,000 attendees last year, and opens the floor to any and all questions girls might have about sex and bodies. Boys are offered a different class, which begins with boys and their dads singing “The Penis Opera” as an icebreaker. (New York Times)

Need to know what this generation is thinking about right now? We’re not mind readers, but we’re pretty close. 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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