Don’t @ me
Think of the last GIF you sent a friend. Here’s mine:
That GIF might be summed up as saying "what the hell?" which is the kind of sentiment I was trying to pass along at the time.
Tenor sees an opportunity here. The GIF platform (known best for its GIF keyboards) has announced that it’s going to start making money by offering advertisers the chance to insert their own GIFs into its platform.
If you’re unfamiliar with Tenor, it’s basically a database of GIFs that can be searched based on keywords. While Tenor operates its own apps, it is also partnered with other companies like Twitter to provide GIFs to their users.
Tenor’s pitch centers around matching the right GIF with the right emotion. For instance, if you were watching the end of the Oscars this year, there’s a decent chance you thought "what the hell?" and looked for an image to express that to a friend. So you jump into iMessage and look to send off a GIF that communicates your feelings. Perhaps you would have picked LeBron up there. Or perhaps you’d pick something from a company that paid Tenor to be associated with an emotion like "what the hell?"
“Tenor has focused on mobile communications since day one, giving Tenor an unmatched dataset that enables us to understand shared sentiment, day in and day out as well as around big cultural events,” said David McIntosh, co-founder and CEO of Tenor, in a press release. “With Tenor Insights, we’re making it easy for marketers to explore the Emotional Graph and better connect with consumers around a new dimension – emotion.”
Tenor is not the only company that sees big business in GIFs. Alongside Tenor are other companies hoping to make big bucks, including Giphy, which was valued at $600 million after closing a funding round in October 2016.
Tenor says about 200 million people per month use its platform to search and share GIFs with friends. The company claims that this gives it unique, real-time insights into the emotions of its users.
To show off those insights (and to coincide with its monetization efforts), Tenor is launching what it calls the "Tenor Emotional Graph," which provides a snapshot of what kind of GIFs people are searching for.
Click around on the graph to see some of the most popular GIFs associated with those keywords.
Tenor doesn’t have any paying customers just yet, but it did try out a pilot program with Warner Bros. around the launch of The LEGO Batman Movie. Tenor claimed that it was able to drive more than 100 million views for GIFs made from the movie.
Tenor sees this kind of thing as untapped potential for marketers.
"Up to this point, their potential as a marketing tool has gone untapped — because the value is not in the GIF itself but in understanding how people use this medium to express themselves in mobile messages," said Jason Krebs, chief business officer at Tenor, in the press release.
Or in other words: