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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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “I follow movie critics/sites on Twitter - this is the best way to find out latest news and upcoming films.”—Male, 23, AL

McDonald’s new ad is brand-free and interactive. In the TV spot starring Mindy Kaling, she never says the brand’s name and no logo appears—though she is wearing a yellow dress in front of a red background. Instead, Kaling asks viewers to go to Google and search "that place where Coke tastes so good" to find out for themselves. Requesting the viewer to take action “play[s] on how teens and twentysomethings use their phones while watching TV, while also acknowledging "how they're discovering information" they trust. The ad has been viewed almost 4 million times since being posted earlier this week. (Inc.MediaPost

Nintendo might have plans to dominate the holidays (again). Last week, the brand announced the discontinuation of the wildly popular NES Classic Edition after very limited availability—news that was not received well by gamers worldwide. But now rumor has it that the brand is working on a SNES Classic Edition that could come in time for Christmas 2017, according to Eurogamer's sources. If their response is any indication, Millennial nostalgia will guarantee a success for the relaunch of the classic console. (Let’s just hope Nintendo makes enough this time.) (WWG)  

“Satisfying videos” are trending, and brands are taking notice. Clips that feature “repetitive tasks, perfect patterns in motion or machinery processes being completed in slow motion, with relaxing music” are providing Millennials and Gen Z an escape from stress—as we explored in our In Their Heads trend. These videos—which include things like paint mixing, slime squeezing, and cake icing—are only getting more popular online: over 265,000 posts on Instagram currently live under the hashtag #satisfyingvideos. Prism TV is one brand capitalizing on the trend, with a promotional video series that shows painters mixing colors together in slow motion. (DIGIDAY

Teens are ushering in a new era of “webrooming.” According to a new Dealspotr survey, 47% of 20-year-olds and younger are using their phones as their primary source for online apparel shopping, compared to 39% of Millennials and 37% of Gen X and Boomers. However, since they are less likely to have digital payment options, they were also the most likely age group to shop in-store, signifying they are using mobile to “reverse showroom” or “webroom.” The survey also found that H&M leads as the most popular retailer for the group, followed by Forever 21. (Yahoo FinanceDealspotr

Beauty brands regularly market to Millennials by speaking to their too-busy, “chicly rushed lifestyles,” but is it the right approach? Newcomers Milk Makeup and Allies of Skin are just a few examples of brands growing their beauty empires by offering simple products that are easy to apply, have multiple uses, and can shorten routines for the busy consumer. But when it comes to beauty, quality may come before convenience, especially for young consumers who enjoy spending time on makeup routines: a Ypulse survey found that 55% of 13-33-year-olds like experimenting with different looks. (Racked

Quote of the Day: “I am passionate about beauty, and I look to Ulta, Sephora, and Bluemercury to learn what news products are out on the market and how to use them.”

—Female, 24, FL

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