GIFs or, Graphic Interchange Format images are nowhere near a new format. Hotly debated pronunciation aside (most people use a hard G as in Graphics, but the format’s creator has said it’s pronounced with more of a J sound), GIFs serve many purposes in digital spaces. While traditional JPEGs will always be a popular way to share visual content, brands using GIFs add a dynamic twist on an old favourite. Video content is becoming more and more prevalent in all kinds of online spaces, but whether it’s a clip that’s a little too long or users viewing content in places they’re not able to hear the audio, GIFs offer a quick way to see an idea in motion without it interrupting the larger viewing experience.
In Online Ads
As Flash technology becomes more outdated and we’re using our mobile phones more than ever, online ads have been taking advantage of the format to keep their artwork moving without having to worry about compatibility issues and load times. Banner ads that have traditionally been Flash-based are being replaced by GIF images that can give much of the same motion effects as Flash did – with the only real difference being the loss of interactive features like image mapping. There are newer Adobe programs that fill the void to create interactive ads, but for advertisements where image motion is the main priority, GIFs are a viable option to use instead.
In Email Marketing
GIF images have long been present in Email marketing in creative ways whether it’s to add a fun element or to provide a quick visual explanation of how something works where a video component may be a bit too cumbersome. Typically, users would rather get the bulk of their information from the same medium; delving further to do a bit more research afterwards instead of having to click elsewhere from the very beginning. The use of the GIF should go hand in hand with the other visual brand messaging and be intriguing enough for the viewer to want to click to learn more if there’s a call-to-action. Brands should consider what short and snappy visual elements make the most sense for them in particular so they don’t oversaturate their messaging with something that might be seen as gimmicky. Will it be subtle or more involved? Will it be a single element or multiple “moving parts”? These are questions you will have to take head on when creating the visual content for your next email campaign and you’re considering adding in a few GIF elements.
On Social Media
Historically, GIF images haven’t always been compatible with every social media platform but that’s slowly changing. More and more, sites like Facebook and Twitter are finding ways to let users express themselves with them. Propelled somewhat by the rise of microblogging site Tumblr, GIFs are now a go-to response or “reaction” to news & other information, being shared much like a regular meme. Brands can take advantage of this by not only using their own branded GIF content from other places such as their online ad or email marketing efforts, but using existing ones to inject humour into their messaging in a way that helps their posts go viral. Adding GIF images to a post used to be a copy-paste affair, but Twitter and Facebook have both recently added options that allow you to insert GIFs directly from a stockpiled library provided mainly by Giphy. Broken down into categories like moods, reactions, seasons or shows, making popular GIFs part of your social media messaging is now easier than ever. Even Instagram, a platform that’s always allowed video content, wanted in on the GIF party with the creation of Boomerang; a buddy app that lets you record 1-second long silent clips that you can then loop and share directly to the platform.
It’s important for brands to consider new & innovative ways to reach wider audiences and create content that not only gets the message across, but is engaging and highly shareable in the long run.