What if I told you that the future of mobile advertising was GIFs? And that the company best situated to make money from this GIF-y future didn't care about making money?
"Why would you ever want to make money?" joked the co-founder and CEO of Giphy, Alex Chung. "That's what venture capital's for."
Chung's says his website now gets 65 million unique visitors a month (recent numbers from the website tracking company Alexa put's Septembers numbers closer to 13 million uniques). Yesterday Giphy released a new tool called GIF Maker, which makes it easier than ever to generate the short, soundless video loops popular everywhere from Reddit's main page to the private channels of Marketplace's Slack account. Yes, we use Giphy all the time at Marketplace. And judging by this year's growth in use of the company's massive library of media, so do a lot of other people.
But Giphy isn't just for jokes and memes. Chung says the company has a plan to make tons of money. How?
"We have the biggest distribution of GIFs in the world right now," he said. "We also have licensing deals with almost all the content producers and music companies. We are in that sense a content distribution company."
Chung says that he wants Giphy to save mobile advertising. His company's GIFs have better "click through" rates than your average text link. And that means that advertising in GIF form is more successful at getting people to engage with content. Since Giphy plans to be in almost every major mobile messaging app in the next year, Chung thinks his company is about to change the way brands advertise to users.
This potential for the mobile ad world may be part of how Giphy is striking deals with movie studios instead of tiptoeing around conversations about fair use, trademark and copyright infringement. Chung uses the example of a teenager doing a search for the word "hungry," finding a McDonald's GIF, and then sending that to their friend to let them know it's time to eat.
"It's like peer-to-peer advertising," he said. "It's what kids do with fashion. As soon as people realize that GIFs are the fashion of the internet — it's what's trendy, what's cool — and it's what I can use to represent myself to my friends, that whole advertising system hasn't really been touched yet."
Giphy CEO Alex Chung, Codebreaker producer Clare Toeniskoetter and Marketplace Tech Host Ben Johnson play with a glitter filter on the GIPHY CAM app. Yes, it makes the glitter appear in your teeth, hence the grins.