Media in your timeline – The GIF Economy

Media Producers, you need to up your multimedia game.

It’s amazing to see the GIF have a resurgence in the past few years, with the past 18 months especially interesting.

Some media producers are adapting and adopting it, most have no clue of the value of short multimedia content.

Twitter’s Vine video app, where you create six second videos uses the GI format. I notice that GMail is now supporting GIFs in emails. When I get emails now from General Assembly, their images can be animated:
General Assembly email

This multimedia piece on the Silk Road via train from the New York Times is beautiful, useful and it’s going to be very hard for the likes of the Huffington Post or BuzzFeed to rip that off. Note the use of large images, a subtle background and 15 second video/gifs to share information. Look at the way the photos have a line going to the map that moves as you scroll. Wow.

Timelines:
And why GIFs and short videos now? Tumblr is certainly a reason, this talk from SXSW suggests so. Them, IMGur and Reddit were the driving forces and I guess it became apparent that even a short GIF is dense with information. It’s all in the game yo or all about the uninterrupted timeline yo. Our lives are revolving around timelines. The Twitter timeline/feed, the Facebook timeline.

We spend more time in the timeline and less time elsewhere. This journey through constant hits of information seems to mean we don’t want to be pulled away from it for too long. Continuous partial attention. Not sure how well researched the six second video length from Vine is but it works very well. Short enough to not distract me from the work of scrolling down, long enough to add a lot of rich context that conditions me to know this format is worth looking at again.

Richer data please
When time is precious, we want richer data. As in the education/learning industry, text can work to pass on information but sights, sounds and text allows us to learn faster as we can process more data. Text is good, text with images is better, text, images and sound is better again. Video is better than images alone. Vine shows this and now Instagram video. We all know changing the angle in a photo can change the message entirely because we only have so much context. A very short video is immensely better than a photo of the same thing.

Vines are 6 seconds, Instagrams are 15 seconds. Vines auto-play and loop. Instagram videos are rumoured to auto-play in Facebook timelines soon and oh, how funny, Facebook will be unveiling a new 15 second video ad format that auto-plays in a timeline. Slide 12 and slide 18 from Mary Meeker’s state of the net slidedeck shows the surge in video consumption and production. Vine is doing well too.

Consider how much text is needed to explain this 5 second video?

Tying shoes

So videos are best? Well, maybe not. We don’t have the time for long videos if the game is shorty snappy bursts of information. It’s suggested that your marketing or otherwise video needs to be short to maintain attention. I think Twitter and Facebook has distorted this and pushed this way down. Quick, rich data please. Vine is being used a lot now.

We’ve moved from text and a few photos to videos, away from videos to infographics, to short videos and GIFs. People might be really put off a timeline in Facebook or Twitter that looks like Lings Cars but 1 billion dollar Tumblr shows that certain demographics don’t mind it too much.

Hopefully more media outlets will embrace these new formats from infographics (becoming a bit too abused) to Vines/Instavideos to GIFs. I’m not a sports fan but now and then read sports news, I’ve spent time marveling at great goals displayed as GIFs on Backpage Football as I want the money shot as quickly as possible so I can go back to things that might interest me more. Finally, the best thing about GIFs is I don’t need flash, I don’t (yet) see shitty overlay ads on them, I don’t have issues with plugins crashing or chugging along videos not fully loading.

Backpage Football

Via la GIF.

I found the following two pieces after writing this that are worth checking out. One from Kathleen Sweeney and one from The New Yorker.

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3 Responses to “Media in your timeline – The GIF Economy”

  1. I’ve started to see a lot more animated GIFs on G+ too, especially as their “awesome” system sometimes stitches photos taken near each other into an animation.

    The Galaxy S4 can shoot animated GIFs too which is nice but they always end up being huge files and need editing ..

  2. Great to be kept abreast of new developments.

  3. [...] wrote last year about the GIF economy and writing for timelines. Hopefully we’ll see more leaning on the idea of genuine content this [...]

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