Giphy is silent no more: The company is turning up the volume on the meme-fueled business — adding video with sound to its array of millions of shareable animated GIFs and stickers.
The Giphy Video launch marks the company’s entry into short-form social video, giving its massive user base the ability to insert snippets of movie trailers, music videos and other content into messages.
At launch, Giphy Video will feature content with audio from entertainment partners including Universal Pictures, Geffen Records and BBC America. The platform is not designed to support user-generated video: Only pre-selected media partners will be able to upload content to Giphy Video initially.
For Giphy, the move into video is a long-term strategy that was preceded by several years of research and development, according to CEO Alex Chung, who co-founded the company in 2013.
“It took years for GIFs to be popular,” he said. “After we brought out GIFs and stickers, the culmination of all that is video. We want to be the No. 1 place where people bring video into conversations.”
Today, Giphy claims to hit about 700 million people every day with users sending a whopping 10 billion pieces of content daily. The addition of audiovisual content opens up Giphy to big new areas of shareable memes, spanning not just movies, TV, and music but also news and sports highlights, Chung said: “If you play the video strategy forward, this become an entirely new kind of video and entertainment network.”
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Giphy Video will be available on the site at giphy.com/videos and on its mobile apps, with the videos shareable as either links or directly into messaging apps. It’s also going to feature videos prominently on its home page and app home screens. Videos on Giphy Video are capped at a maximum length of 30 seconds but the company recommends partners target 15 seconds or less. “If you are typing while having a conversation, 15 seconds is the limit before it goes off the screen,” said Chung.
At first, Giphy Video won’t allow partners promote their videos in the same way they’re able to feature branded GIFs in search results. But Chung said that will be coming down the road. “It will be interesting when the content is the ad, and the ad is entertaining,” he said.
Universal Pictures will use Giphy Video to share clips from current and upcoming movies such as “Cats,” “Dolittle,” “Queen and Slim,” “Invisible Man” and “Black Christmas.”
“Giphy provides a very cool, organic way to get our movies into the cultural conversation,” said Justin Pertschuk, senior VP of digital marketing at Universal Pictures. “Given the success we’ve had so far with silent, short clips there’s a good chance this will work really well when you go slightly longer and add audio into the medium.”
Regarding Universal’s expectations for Giphy Video, Pertschuk said, “We just want to be part of it — it’s an opportunity to be first to market with cool content.”
The studio has used paid promotions on Giphy to promote past releases including “Hobbs & Shaw,” “Us,” “Last Christmas,” “Good Boys,” “The Grinch” and “Ma” and has been pleased with the results, per Pertschuk. For example, this trending “Good Boys” GIF from this summer has over 2.7 million views and saw an engagement rate three times the average for Giphy content.
Among other Giphy Video content partners, BBC America will feature clips tied to Wonderstruck, its new micro-network devoted to wildlife and wonder that takes over the TV channel on Saturdays for 24 hours. BBCA is supplying clips from programs including “Planet Earth II,” “Madagascar” and “Dynasties.”
In addition, for Giphy Video, Universal Music Group’s Geffen Records created the first short-form music video by working with Giphy Studios to capture exclusive content from Marshmello’s latest music video for “Tongue Tied,” featuring Yungblud and Blackbear. The Chicago Bulls are also in Giphy Video’s lineup at launch, with the NBA team pushing video clips featuring both players and mascot Benny the Bull to get fans excited for the 2019-2020 season.
Longer term, Chung said, it remains to be seen whether Giphy will open up Giphy Video to user-generated content, where apps like ByteDance’s TikTok and Facebook’s Instagram play (and where Twitter’s now-defunct Vine paved the way). His plan right now is to keep the focus on premium, brand-safe licensed content: “There’s really no professional short-form content site,” Chung said. He acknowledged that Twitter has built a business combining professionally produced short video clips with social conversations but noted that Giphy is platform-agnostic — and that its content is widely shared on Twitter.
Giphy actually first dipped its toe into audiovisual content in 2018, with the Giphy Film Fest showcase celebrating artists making compelling short-form narratives in 18 seconds or less. The winner of the $10,000 grand prize was “Washed Up,” directed by Ani Acopian and shot by drone, which shows person drifting in the surf in Reynisfjara, Iceland, where the water is 43 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, as part of its bigger focus on entertainment, Giphy earlier this year hired former Marvel Entertainment exec Peter Phillips as COO. Phillips previously been executive VP at Marvel heading up digital media, video games and content distribution.