Earlier today, March 15, 2020, Facebook purchased the first & largest GIF search engine platform GIPHY for 400 million dollars. This is an incredibly strategic decision that ensures Facebook stays in the lead of the digital monopoly game. Now, Facebook owns a total of 84 apps!
The original plan is to merge GIPHY with Instagram (who was also purchased by Facebook back in 2012), but, is that all that Facebook plans on doing with GIPHY? "A lot of people in our community already know and love GIPHY. In fact, 50% of GIPHY’s traffic comes from the Facebook family of apps, half of that from Instagram alone. By bringing Instagram and GIPHY together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect GIFs and stickers in Stories and Direct. Both our services are big supporters of the creator and artist community, and that will continue. Together, we can make it easier for anyone to create and share their work with the world." Facebook announced today.
Should platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat be worried about their already existing GIPHY integrations? How about the future of advertising... is there a connection between Facebook ads & this new GIPHY integration? We think so... and that's why we're exploring more about: who is GIPHY, why did Facebook buy it, and why should other social media platforms be concerned about this 400M social media purchase. Let's take a closer look...
Who is "GIPHY" & where did they come from?
In a nutshell: GIPHY is an online video database and a video search engine that allows users to search for and share short looping videos with no sound, also known as GIF's (Graphics Interchange Format). GIFs are often used as a way to illustrate emotional responses or reactions to something, which is why the app grew tremendously in this new visual-oriented digital world.
GIPHY was founded in February 2013, by Alex Chung & Jace Cooke, who originally thought of the idea as a way to make it easier for you to find your favorite GIFs to share with your friends, as explained by Jace Cooke, the co-founder of the app. “Giphy was thought up over breakfast with my partner on the project, Alex Chung, while musing on the rise of purely visual communication. We both couldn’t get over how cumbersome it still was to find and share GIFs, and thought we could do something about it” explains Jace. But, just after a week after the app launched, it already had over a million users, and by August of that same year, GIPHY partnered with Facebook and then with Twitter just three months later. This allowed users to post, embed, and share GIFs from the GIPHY library straight to these well established social media platforms.
By 2015, GIPHY expanded its partnership with Facebook by allowing users to access the GIPHY GIF library straight from the Facebook Messenger, meaning all Facebook users could start sending GIFs to their friends & family directly from their direct messages. This was game-changing! By 2017, GIPHY had 200 million daily active users distributed between their website and all their app integrations.
And then things got even more interesting...
In 2019, founder Alex Chung announced a pretty innovative vision that might have caught Facebook's attention once again. He began exploring the concept of placing ads inside private messages by using the data collected from GIPHY's search engine. “If you have a search engine for messaging, then you have an ad platform for messaging,” Chung said, comparing Giphy’s approach to Google’s, which monetized search engines with advertising based on users’ search histories. “… If you want to monetize messaging, you are going to need an ad platform — but in order to have an ad platform, you are going to need search.”
GIPHY is already compatible with all iPhones & most smart-phones, as well as being integrated with most messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, TikTok, Tumblr, Wix, Snapchat, iMessage, Slack, and more. All of a sudden, including ads to private messages, doesn't seem like an out of the world idea anymore... especially when Facebook is the one who now owns that idea.
Today, GIPHY is broken down into 4 apps, it's available in 32 different languages and partnered with several other platforms. Take a look at the screenshots below, taken from GIPHY's website, explaining how their platform is now categorized into different apps:
So, now that Facebook owns GIPHY, the largest GIF search engine in the world, will FB limit how the app talks to other social media platforms like it did back in 2012 after it purchased Instagram and limited its integration with Twitter? Maybe... but as of now, GIPHY announced to their API/SDK partners and developers that "GIPHY’s GIFs, Stickers, Emojis, etc. aren’t going anywhere" and they "will continue to make GIPHY openly available to the wider ecosystem".
We'll have to stay tuned to see the future of GIPHY and how it ends up integrating with Instagram and other platforms, as well as keeping an eye out on how this might be connected to Facebook's future advertising innovations. To read more about this merging, you can read Facebook's announcement here, and GIPHY's announcement here. For live social media news updates, visit here.
Author: Sabrina Chamberlain