So, what does this quiet news – please excuse the oxymoron – about YouTube’s introduction of its very own GIF creation tool say about our media consumption habits?
But first, if you didn’t know already, GIF is officially pronounced, “jif”, not “gif” as many people tend to pronounce.
Now back to our discussion.
No one doubts the explosive growth and popularity of short-form video content. The very concept of viral video was born out of this, especially thanks to the social video king YouTube. Although long-form videos are common on YouTube nowadays, YouTube started its meteoric rise with homemade short videos.
Then, many startups attempted to build their own video platforms solely on short-form videos in the range of 10 to 30 seconds. They came and went, until Twitter acquired Vine, a “6-second video” sharing service, and introduced it within its social media platform. It was a hit, and soon, Facebook’s Instagram launched its own 15-second video sharing feature.
Of course, animated GIFs are very different from short-form videos. But what these GIFs represent in our media consumption habits is the same as those short-form videos.
Content is everywhere, even on the go. It’s more difficult than ever before for any content to break through the clutter and command an undivided attention. This evolution of viewership ignited the proliferation of short-form content. Moreover, for the up-and-coming Generation Z whose very lives are gamified, the propensity to anything video is very much expected. So, it’s no surprise that GIFs, which are basically “photos acting like videos”, are very popular among these tweens and teens, and beyond.
Compared to short videos, GIFs also has an advantage in their simplicity. The GIF format is very portable on the World Wide Web, making it very easy to share, especially in the age of social media. And this simplicity is very much in line with our craving for instant gratification in media consumption. We want it, and we want it now.
So, this little news about YouTube embracing GIFs is actually big news: Short-form content – in every possible format – is here to stay.