GIF’s Tipping Point

As the GIF turns 25, it’s about time that the clever image format start making some money.  The GIF is enjoying quite a resurgence in popularity –  primarily among teens using Tumblr, and among photographers and artists experimenting with miniaturized or isolated areas of motion within what appear to be otherwise still photographs.  A good modern GIF captures just enough of a specific moment to illustrate motion, yet leaves enough out to spark your curiosity – to make you begin wondering what the back story is that’s associated with the motion.  That connection to a sense of wonder and imagination is a major contributing factor to why teens and artists are the ones helping us redefine what a GIF is.  The problem is, many teens and artists don’t have any money!  Given the current lack of heavy financial support, some say that this new GIF trend will come and go, fade as just another passing fad, and never really infiltrate the mainstream.  I beg to differ. I say that the current trend is just a precursor of the real economic opportunity that lies ahead.

Trends typically start small, and as they grow, they tend to find their own “tipping point” – often in unusual and oblique ways.  It seems that the real opportunity for GIFs is in the $280B advertising and marketing industry.  As more ad dollars continue to switch to digital content in the form of e-mail campaigns, website graphics and mobile ads, the more we all will battle for consumer attention.  To remain competitive, we will all have to “think outside the box”, and begin utilizing technology in ways that leave no stone unturned.  Teens and artists have already begun the first steps in that process, exploring the creative side of the technology.  Businesses (marketers) will slowly begin seeing other advantages to a new form of communication that is as engaging as a video, but as simple to use as a photo.  The real opportunity lies in this new category of interaction – the GIF as a new short form of communication that bridges the gap between our insatiable appetite for video and our rapidly shrinking attention spans.

Monetarily, GIFs will begin to make an economic impact when any of the following three tipping points occur:

  1. A major stock photo supply house begins licensing GIFs
  2. Facebook fully supports GIFs (as is the case on Tumblr)
  3. MS Outlook 2007 & 2010 email clients make up less than 5% market share of all email client users (9.7% today)

I expect one of these tipping point events to occur within a year from now (Summer 2013), and for all three to take place by the end of 2014.  This will open the flood gates, and the marketing community will rush to incorporate animated GIFs, using the medium in a variety of creative ways that will capture our attention and dramatically increase audience engagement.   Based upon current industry data, I expect that GIF licensing will make up 18% of the total $2B stock photo licensing market by 2018.  That is about where video stock sits today, following a five year trend similar to that projected for the GIF.

Based on that logic, by 2018 it can be expected that GIFs will account for approximately $350M in annual licensing revenue.  “Conventional” video in all formats will continue its strong growth, topping $525M by 2018, and still photography will see a steady decline, due to incremental displacement by the other two media – but still photography will, nonetheless, account for $1.1B in annual licensing revenue in 2018.  The entire market can be expected to stay relatively flat due to other economic factors, however – but the over all mix will begin to favor the newer, more engaging formats.

So what does it all mean?

At 25, it’s time for the GIF to move out of Mom’s basement and into the real world.  Time for it to begin supporting itself – and we can all help, by showing businesses how this forgotten file format has gone hipster, and is truly ready to shine!


“Dollar Shave Club – Proof That Innovative Video Works!”

If you’re not already aware of the guerrilla marketing phenomenon that is the Dollar Shave Club, you soon will be. Dollar Shave Club’s maverick CEO Michael Durbin’s YouTube video has been viewed over 4 million times, and the Dollar Shave Club was featured on The Wall Street Journal’s Technology Website/WebcastDollar Shave Club - Michael DurbinWe love to see the “little guy” succeed by doing something new and edgy with video – it proves that innovation and imagination, when combined with guerrilla marketing techniques, can spell success for marketers on  a budget – and Michael Durbin has completely thrown caution to the winds in this video: dropping (bleeped-out, but obvious) “f-bombs”, playing tennis (badly) in his warehouse, (almost) slicing packing tape with a machete, and partying with his lone shipping employee while dancing with a fuzzy bear and wielding a leaf-blower to stir up dollar bills like confetti! How could we not salute such creative madness? Watch out, Schick and Gillette – this guy’s out to make you take it on the chin!

This Cinegif of some of Michael Durbin’s finer moments is definitely full of movement, color, varying POVs and…well…craziness – but the file size is only  1.9 Megabytes!  That’s small enough to be very portable – perfect for embedding as an instant-open, instant play attention-getter in emails, web pages, power point presentations, digital signage or e-commerce sites. Cinegifs make great hot-links from emails to full-length videos, so get your guerrilla marketing game face on, and discover how to give the competition a really close shave – discover the power of Quality Video Anywhere!

Remember, just by going to our website and creating a Cinegif, you’ll be automatically entered in the Ultimate Cinegif Creators’ Contest for a chance to win over $1,900 in cool camera gear. No purchase necessary. Go to for contest rules and details.