Since its introduction in the mid-1990s, the animated GIF (also known as a Web banner) has established itself as the standard for internet marketing and advertising.
Created by Canadian software engineer Scott Jenson, the GIF offers a variety of options for advertisers, including text, images, and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) links. Along with a handful of other digital marketing and ad formats, the GIF has largely replaced older forms of internet advertising such as:
- Pre-roll video
- Pre-loader (animated GIFs used to load content into a website)
- JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) files used to store images
- Flash files used to play media
Because it is supported by almost all modern browsers (including Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari) and is easy to implement, the GIF is a popular choice among digital marketers and ad agencies. However, not all types of ads can be displayed using the GIF format.
For example, if an advertiser wants to use the GIF to display text, it will typically be accompanied by one or more images. This is because the GIF image format was not designed to display large amounts of text.
The Rise in Popularity
Odds are you have seen or used a GIF at least once in your life. Perhaps you found a funny video on TikTok and decided to share it with your friends. Or, perhaps you opened a Twitter account and saw a bunch of funny GIFs being shared by people you follow.
GIFs are everywhere. It seems like every day we see a new use for the format that wasn’t previously available. So if you are looking for a way to spice up your online marketing and advertising efforts, the GIF is a great choice. Especially since it is such a versatile format.
What is the Difference Between GIFs and JPGs?
It’s important to understand the difference between a GIF and a JPG before you get started. Simply put, a JPG is a type of photo file created by developers at the Moving Picture Experts Group, a special interest group within the MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group).
As its name implies, a JPG is a format for holding still images. In other words, think pictures. Like a GIF, a JPG is a popular format for advertising and marketing content because it is easy to implement and supported by virtually all browsers. But, a JPG is significantly different from a GIF in terms of how it stores and displays images.
In JPEGs, all the pixels in an image are assigned a unique number. When a JPEG is displayed, the pixels are arranged in a grid. Pixels are either displayed in full, in partial form (known as a “thumbnail”), or discarded. This is in contrast to the way that GIFs display pixels, which can be any shape and size.
In a nutshell, a JPG is a raster image—a grid of pixels. In contrast, a GIF is a vector image, which means it can be scaled to any size and still look clear and sharp. For these reasons, JPGs are better for advertisers who want to display their ads on websites because they do not require as much screen real estate as a GIF and are compatible with most browsers.
Why Use Digital Marketing and Advertising Tools?
You may be wondering why you would want to use digital marketing and advertising tools in the first place. After all, weren’t you just making the same marketing and advertising decisions as your competitors?
Well, yes and no. Although the landscape of online marketing and advertising can be confusing, it is actually a fairly easy matter to stand out among the competition. With the right tools, it is possible to pinpoint the exact demographics and individuals most likely to buy your product or service.
Also, utilizing digital marketing and advertising tools can help you measure the effectiveness of different campaigns and determine which methods are most effective. Using tools is also the key to staying consistent while expanding your reach. When you become more familiar with the various platforms and the various tactics available, it is easier to continually improve your results and remain agile in your approach.
The bottom line is that digital marketing and advertising tools can help you identify key demographics, target them with specific content, and measure the success of that content. Essentially, these tools allow you to engage with your audience and determine what works best for your product or service—making the whole process much more efficient and, ultimately, profitable.
The Pros and Cons of the Animated GIF
Let’s face it, the GIF has a few major drawbacks. First off, despite its popularity, the GIF is not a permanent fixture on the web. That means it can be easily deleted from a user’s computer or device. It also does not scale well with graphics-intensive websites. Meaning, if your site features a lot of graphics and animation, the image may not display smoothly.
On the other hand, there are a few major perks to the GIF. First, it is relatively easy to implement. Simply put, all you need is a GIF file and a link (or reference) to the image. Then, wherever you place that link, the image will appear—instantly.
In addition, the GIF is incredibly easy to use. Simply set the link or reference to the image and you are good to go. There is also no sophisticated software required to use a GIF. It is simply one line of code to place the graphic on your website. Or, if you are using an online graphic tool, such as Canva, all you need to do is paste the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the image you want to use and hit “create”.
So, even though the GIF is not a permanent fixture on the web, this does not mean it does not work. In fact, since it was designed with an eye towards digital marketing and advertising, it fits perfectly into this sphere. Specifically, since the GIF is easy to implement, it is a popular choice amongst digital marketers who want to keep their content short and snappy.