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A Brief Introduction to the Animated GIF
|The original GIF specification was introduced by CompuServe in 1987. According to Patrick Davison of MemeFactory, some of the first popular animated GIFs were simple things like flames and waving flags. But in the 2000s, with the growing division between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, the animated GIF started to lose its initial popularity. "The idea of using GIFs became way less fashionable," explains Davison.A few years after the evolution of Web 2.0, however, people started realizing that they could use animated GIFs in a lot of different ways and feature them in a lot more places, like blogs and social networks. The tools for GIF creation, Davison explains, also became more widespread. Thanks to this fortunate combination of circumstances, the animated GIF has now experienced a powerful comeback in the ecosystem of online content.|
The Benefits of Animated GIFs for Marketers
|Alright, so animated
GIFs are cute and cool ... but does that mean they can be used in
marketing? Absolutely! They actually present a few key benefits to
Animated GIFs are easy to consume.
In the attention economy, it's tough to capture someone's attention for more than a minute or two. That's why online video is such a challenging medium to master. Yet, we all know that video has the power to tell a story in a different way than still content can ... which is why the animated GIF presents the perfect middle ground!Think of the animated GIF as a hybrid between a still image and a video. Photographer Jamie Beck of Cinemagraphs describes an animated GIF as "a photograph that is still alive." This means people can engage with this format quickly (like they would with a still image), yet they can extract a lesson from the highlighted movement (like they would from a video). As Christopher Price of Tumblr explains, GIFs are short and have a low barrier to entry. No doubt, this is great news for marketers!
They can serve as calls-to-action.
The animated GIF is guiding the viewer's eye along a specific path without being obtrusive. The format zooms in on a specific moment in the bigger picture. "Whatever that one thing is that is alive is what your eye is going to go to," says Beck.Such eye guidance is the essence of a good call-to-action. As a marketer, you should always be considering different ways in which you can capture the attention of your audience through effective (and creative) use of calls-to-action. Animated GIFs might present the perfect opportunity for you to try something new.
They can have emotional impact.
Cinemagraphs' approach to animated GIFs borders on the magical by mesmerizing the viewer with its elegance and simplicity. Their animated GIFs build an image of the world that people wouldn't have necessarily noticed in still images. That's why picking the right moment to focus on when creating an animated GIF is a big creative decision for Cinemagraphs.The potential of the animated GIF to connect with people emotionally is tremendous for marketers. An emotional message, for instance, can bring people inspiration, laughter and harmony. Such an emotional impact, thanks to its immediate value to the user, certainly extends the reach of the format to new audiences.