Content Marketing

Will the GFY Kill the GIF?

For those of us who spend large chunks of our lives on the Internet, GIFs are familiar visual punchlines that make us laugh, raise an eyebrow, or put a hand over an open mouth. In the words of Adam Leibsohn, director of strategy at Giphy, “GIFs [have] embedded themselves as an essential part of our social lexicon.”

But now, that social lexicon is evolving, and in the battle between three-lettered file formats, GIFs may soon give way to GFYs.

What is a GFY, you ask? To people who don’t consider themselves computer geeks, there isn’t a huge difference between a GIF and a GFY. Both provide the same function when you want to watch Beyoncé do the “Single Ladies” dance on loop. However, GFY files are much smaller, so they run faster, with shorter loading times. We’ve all been on a page with multiple GIFs that stalls out until the site fully loads. With GFYs, there’s no need to deal with that issue anymore.

dancing animated GIF

The GFY magic lies in how it’s built. In previous versions of HTML, one would have to resort to proprietary plugins and APIs to order for multimedia content to load properly. HTML5, the most recent revision of HTML, makes it easy for multimedia and graphical content to be written into websites as they are being designed.

Adobe created The Expressive Web out of HTML5, showcasing the full functionality of HTML5 and CSS3. Musicians have also built fully immersive HTML5 websites within the last few years to accompany the launch of new albums, like Danger Mouse’s Three Dreams of Black and Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown.

And while you may not pay too much attention to the complexities of rivaling video formats, the different options will ultimately affect your online experience. GFYs speed things up, but are more difficult to create than GIFs. Gfycat, a Web-based service that generates GFYs with links, needs to translate each GIF into six separate video formats to ensure the files are compatible with multiple browsers. Though there was a surplus of GFYs on Reddit following Gfycat’s launch last July, the ol’ GIF is still the mainstream method of choice because of its widespread compatibility.

It took over 20 years for the GIF to become popular, but that popularity could be short-lived if HTML5 takes off. In an era when the time it takes to load a page could make or break a publisher’s audience, it would be worthwhile for content marketers to consider GFYs as part of their future plans. We all want to see Beyoncé dance, as long as there’s no lag.

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