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: “This year, I’m planning on taking [my] wife and kid to the Philippines so he can experience his mother’s culture. His mother is Filipino while I am African American.” –Male, 32, CA

Over the last few years, airline flight safety videos have become marketing clips, with some going viral and brands getting more creative with their messages to stand out. Delta’s new in-flight safety clip is no exception, and they’re trying to speak young consumers’ language with a parade of internet guest stars. Meme celebs like Nyan Cat and Overly Attached Girlfriend make appearances in the “walk down Web culture memory lane” that has been viewed almost 2 million times in two days. (The Next Web)

The start and stop years of generations is hardly agreed upon, and many distinguish teens as a completely separate generation from Millennials—one that brands are paying more attention to. Tips for connecting with Gen Z (aka Plurals, Homelanders, iGen, or post-Millennials) include exposing your quirky side (or getting a little weird), having #NoFilter, and engaging with them on the social platforms they use. (Adweek)

Back in 2013, we told brands to prep for the future of e-commerce, including subscriptions beyond the beauty box—and we’ve been keeping track of the trend ever since. The founder of subscription box startup Carnivore Club has some thoughts on where the popular industry will go next. Expect even more niche product offerings, luxury services sold en-masse, and big retail brands joining in on the subscription model craze. (PSFK)

Nothing says summer like a baseball game—right? Maybe not for the next generation. The number of casual young players is dropping, and some Little Leagues are struggling to pull in players. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, the number of seven to 17-year-olds participating in baseball fell 41% between 2002 and 2013. New preferences for other sports like lacrosse and soccer, and kids’ focusing on a single sport for the whole year, could be reasons behind the drop off. (WSJ)

The promposal trend, which we spotted last year, has only been growing and now brands are getting in on the public “will you go to prom with me” spectacles. MTV launched “Promposal Mania” last month, orchestrating promposal stunts with pop stars and broadcasting them on Snapchat and Periscope. Sour Patch Kids has asked teens to submit their promposal stories on social, and is hosting a prom for the winners of the competition. (The Drum)

Looking for a quick stat on young consumers to get you up to speed before a strategy session? Searching Ypulse is the best place to start! Silver and Gold members have access to 10,000+ articles, 20,000+ curated news items, and thousands of statistics on Millennials and teens drawn from our monthly national survey of the generation. Your search can begin and end with us. (Ypulse)

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