GIPHY Founder and CEO Alex Chung took the stage at SXSW 2018 to discuss the future of content, the landscape of media consumption, and once and for all determine whether the correct pronunciation is 'GIF' or 'JIF'.
In order to understand why GIFs exploded in popularity and how his company GIPHY grew into a media empire in five years, Chung explains how content creation and content dissemination have fundamentally changed.
"GIFs are the LEGOs of visual communication. Before, we had film to convey human emotion, but now we can convey emotion in just six seconds." - Chung
As a result of mobile technology, streaming services, and social platforms, the way we consume media as a culture has changed. According to Chung, the average adult attention span in 2018 is 8 seconds yet millennials consume 18+ hours of content per day. Short form content has become the norm and Chung believes GIFs became so successful because of their ability to provide short pockets of entertainment and information in a digestible format.
GIPHY, the first GIF search engine, was created to offer people a better mechanism to communicate. "We spend 80% of our time communicating with other people. The internet is mostly about communication. Text and emojis were the only ways we could communicate. We needed a better transport mechanism to convey all of thoughts and desires we have to other people. GIFs are just the next evolution of that," said Chung.
When it comes to content consumption, our culture is on 24/7. There's so much content that there is almost not enough time for people to consume content. As Chung describes, GIPHY's success revolves around their strategy to not dominate space in consumer's lives but fill the cracks in the day with small bits of passive entertaining content.
"Anywhere you can see content, we want to be apart of that."
Learn more about GIF culture, Alex Chung's journey to creating GIPHY, and the future of content in the full SXSW 2018 session, "The End of Content," from the Brands & Marketing Track.
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Alex Chung "The End of Content" at SXSW 2018 - Photo by Kumi Otani