This article was first published in the October edition of Media Pulse – Omnicom Media Group’s monthly highlights on relevant media insights, intelligence and trends.
It’s official: we’ve reached peak GIF (which stands for Graphics Interchange Format, FYI). With a mid-August release, Camoji has just become the slickest GIF-making app to date, instantly turning iPhone video into sharable, looped content. The app is totally free and completely touch-oriented which means it’s simple enough a monkey could use it. Well, some monkeys.
Camoji merges seamlessly with existing iMessage accounts which means new users don’t have to snag a username or sign over their firstborn to download. Creating a GIF is as easy as swiping “record”—the camera, naturally, is preset to be self-facing—then sending the message like a text. When the recipient opens the message an endless GIF loop is launched. The makers behind Camoji say they hope users will take the platform and run with it, harnessing their creativity and 6-second attention spans to come up with viral Vine-style GIFs. In other news, GIF Yogurt combines our need for our personalization with the emoji fad that has rules the world recently, so far gone are smiley’s without movement or bright colored cheery faces. ☹ And if you can’t find the exact emotional state you’re attempting to recreate with those two apps, please see Giphy, the ultimate GIF search engine.
It seems only natural that our collective obsession with selfies has morphed into a desire for more engaging, more entertaining headshots. Silly selfies are no longer enough to illicit a grin from your friends; now it needs to be an endlessly-looped compilation. The GIF has actually been around since way back in 1987 when it was first used as a zero-loss compression format. Today they’re mainly used to broadcast videos of cats vs. raccoons, just as Steve Jobs probably intended.
Camoji’s iMessage integration means it’s currently available only to iPhone users. The partnership is an instant “in” for the app, though, as millions upon millions of dedicated smartphone addicts are already using the platform daily. Android and other OS users can still receive Camoji GIFs in the form of URL links that open just like a website. There are plenty of other players in the GIF space—from Recordit to Ultratext – but Camoji thinks its swipe-based design makes it more intuitive than its competition. And since it’s aimed at a demographic already incessantly swiping left and right on Tinder, that theory is a promising one.
The worldwide sensation that is GIF creation brings up a larger cultural movement of visual communication (hello, cave drawings). Sharing emotions and even messages visually is fun and more importantly it’s easy. As an outlet for simple creativity, these GIF apps are specialized for one simple function much like its predecessors in the communication space, excelling at one single purpose, like Instagram or Snapchat, are beginning to beat out multi-functional platforms like Facebook. Specialization or divergence is a key component to capitalizing on changing consumer behavior.
Thanks in large part to Buzzfeed and other clickbait-style content sites, GIFs have become the preferred way to share short video clips on the web. Camoji and other GIF apps present a unique opportunity for marketers, much like Snapchat, that are creative enough to conjure up “giffable” ad spots and promotional videos. It’s only a matter of time before an unintentionally-hilarious GIF of Flo the Progressive Lady falling down an escalator shows up in your inbox, anyway.