Have you ever wondered how to optimise the use of videos and gifs in your everyday marketing tasks? No? Well there’s the door, show yourself out! For those remaining get ready to take a deep dive into the world of moving images, what they are, why we use them and how we can utilise them.
So, what is a gif?
Gif stands for ‘Graphics Interchange Format’ and essentially, it’s a looping animation/ video consisting of a sequence of pictures or ‘frames’ if you want to get technical.
What’s the difference between a video and a gif?
The main difference between them is the file name. As mockingly simplistic as it sounds, the main way to tell a video apart from a gif is looking at the file format “.name” at the end of the file, a gif will have ‘.gif’ and a video file could have a range of names like ‘.mov’,’.mp4’, ‘.avi’ etc (but a gif will always be ‘.gif’). There is an ongoing debate on the pronunciation of “gif”, Steve Wilhite – the god of the gif, would have you pronounce it as “jif” but I have all sorts of problems with this that I won’t get in to now (isn’t jif a household cleaner?) , basically, pronounce it however you like – everyone else does!
“But Vicky, how do I know which medium I should be using based on my marketing needs?” Well eager animation enthusiast, I’ll tell you! Let’s jump into my monitor and find the answers!
Social media platforms have quickly become the prime location for housing gifs and videos, but gifs and videos have different purposes on these sites. People tend to post videos that contain various types of content or subject matter: TED talks, recipe videos, life hacks, bloopers, reality show clips, movie trailers etc. These videos often serve a specific purpose, they tell a story or they advertise something. With 2.07 billion monthly active users, and around 100 million hours of video watched every day on Facebook, you’d be bonkers not to take advantage of using video for social media platforms in your marketing campaigns. As 85% of videos are viewed with the sound off, it’s a good idea to have captions or text to support your ad, as well as a call to action after the video. Here’s one we made earlier!
Now if you are using video for advertising on various social platforms, well that’s a whole blog post in itself, everything from length, targeting through to platform can have an effect on views and responses…but we’ll visit this another time!
A gif is used as more of a reaction to a post, and acts as an emotional response without having to use words (although sometimes there may be text in the gif, the point is it’s faster to post a gif than type something). Here are a few examples of where you could post a gif:
If you tried to embed a video into an email, the chances are it would probably crash or fail to send at all due to the size of it. Some email providers may also block or have trouble displaying them. Gifs, on the other hand, can work effectively in emails (there are exceptions of course, Outlook can also block gifs) however so long as you limit the number of frames the gif uses, then most email providers are fine, just don’t go overboard, no one wants to look at an entire page of gifs – it’s chaotic! (plus, we have imgur.com for that…) So, why use gifs in an email at all? Well, think about it, would your eyes be drawn to the static discount copy or the flashing discount copy? “BUY ME!” “50% OFF ENDS TODAY”! If one image is alternating with another, you’re probably more likely to take a second look at the email to make sure that you absorb all of the information. Beauty and fashion brands like Nobody’s Child and Beauty Bay are very successful in doing this:
Ads are constantly competing for our attention online, and gifs and videos often act as a sort of megaphone to help the brands shout louder and gain our precious attention. On the fashion retail ecommerce site ASOS, they use videos on their site to showcase to the viewer how the garments look on the catwalk. This is extremely useful to the consumer as it shows them how the garments fit, how fabric reacts to movement, and what the colours look like in a different lighting etc.
Letterbox florist company Bloom and Wild is also good example of video use in ecommerce, they have a video banner on their site to show the consumer’s reaction to receiving the flowers, which adds a nice personal touch to the site and aids in selling a feeling to the consumers. https://www.bloomandwild.com/
Although we wouldn’t advise plastering your website with gifs, this has worked surprisingly well for ‘Ling’s Cars’. The site serves as a brilliant publicity stunt as it’s different to anything else currently online. Despite being known as one of the worst sites on the internet by some people, the business claims to lease around 100 cars a month and has been getting 1 million unique visitors to the site each year, and Ling Valentine (the founder of Ling’s Cars) has even appeared on Dragon’s Den. But honestly, don’t get me started on the design…
You may be very familiar with brands like Buzzfeed using gifs to enhance their articles in an attempt to maintain cultural relevance. You may also notice that I’ve used gifs throughout this blog post! This is because, let’s be honest, a big chunk of text is off-putting to most audiences. We’re in an age of being able to instantly access information and our attention spans are wearing ever thinner. Sites like wikiHow utilise gifs to illustrate steps in their DIY articles which makes it easier for readers to understand rather than trying to explain things using words and static images alone. It also breaks things down easily and is less time consuming than constantly replaying and pausing a video.
Animated infographics take this a step further by not only drawing your eyes to the images but also highlighting statistics and important pieces of copy. Animated infographics can be a gif or a video. The gif allows the full infographic to be seen at once and the video is just in a regular video format in an infographic style:
When I say ‘Outdoor Advertising’ using videos and gifs, I am referring to animated billboards, like the ones you might see at bus stop shelters, outside your local supermarket or as you go down the escalators in the London Underground. This brings me to Netflix’s launch in France, they created an outdoor campaign made entirely with gifs. They used 100 different gifs based on Netflix shows and films that were updated on the screens live, and each gif would correlate to things like sports updates and the weather. Some people argue that they only used gifs so that it could be the first marketing campaign to entirely use gifs and that higher quality video content could have been used, but see for yourself:
What have we learnt?
So hopefully you’ve learned a few tips for what situations are best for video or gifs as well as great examples to inspire you along the way! In case you’ve already forgotten (tut tut) here’s a summary of when to use gifs or videos:
- Social media: Either is fine, but gifs for reactions and then videos for content, work well
- Emails: gifs to avoid the email failing to load properly, always remember your alt tags just in case!
- Ecommerce sites: either but sparingly, as this can affect load times of a site for google rankings
- Articles: gifs to break up an article or embedded videos, animated infographics. Adds a little more interest
- Outdoor: gifs for marketing – cost effective disruptive marketing to engage someone in a hurry. Videos are better for a more captive audience as they tend to be longer, so bus stops or traffic lights or even the cinema for that longer attention span
If you want to find out how to create your own gifs, check out this helpful article: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-create-animated-gif-quick-tip-ht
And if you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this one: https://www.thewonderland.co.uk/blog/an-introduction-to-stop-motion-animation/
Written by Vicky