By Alex Chung, CEO and founder, GIPHY

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Consumers tolerate ads, barely, but they love brands.

While traditional advertising struggles to get through ad blockers, people intentionally use branded GIFs to share with their friends in millions of conversations per day. Because they are using and sharing brands, not ads.

GIFs for Bubly sparkling water, like the one of Michael Bublè’s effervescent and sparkling wink, have been used over 10 billion times.

Brands are a necessary part of all our lives. You wear brands, you watch brands, you eat brands, you buy brands, and most importantly, you identify with brands.

You choose brands because you share common philosophies and values. Brands think, feel, have personalities and purpose. You align yourself with brands because they give you meaning beyond transactions and products.

With over 7 billion GIFs used every day, we find that people organically choose branded content to best express themselves to their friends and the world. And by powering millions of conversations every day, we find that people really love to talk. A lot.

The internet is saturated in advertising. But not in messaging.

A decade ago, social media saw massive time spent even though there was little to no advertising. That opportunity created hundreds of billions of dollars. Today, messaging sees massive time spent, but virtually no advertising. This opportunity is here, now.

It’s obvious that the next generations want to participate and share in the conversation — they’re sending over 80 trillion messages per year.

GIPHY brings branded content to millions of conversations a day. We’ve spent seven years making content conversational and bringing brands into messaging. With over a trillion GIFs served, we’ve learned a lot of lessons about brands, content, and conversations.

With attention spans at 12 seconds and falling, the longer the content, the less attention it will receive. In today’s world of messaging and digital conversations, the language of how we communicate needs to reflect the medium of the message.

Content has to exist in 140 characters and six-second GIFs at a time. For content to work in messaging, it has to be expressive and provide the context that no one has the time to read or write.

Sending a six-second branded GIF of Danny DeVito saying “pay me” says a lot, not only about your relationship with Quickbooks (the sponsor) but also how cheap your friends are.

Consumers don’t have time for ads but they have all day for entertainment.

We have learned to ignore traditional advertising. It’s often too long, poor quality, and interrupts you from the internet cats you’re actually trying to enjoy.

Branded content, itself, must be entertaining. It should add to the conversation, not distract from it. GIFs were created to entertain and to share. They not only make your friends lol, rofl, lqtm, lsmh, haha, wtf, they make you funnier than you actually are.

In his book Friction, Jeff Rosenblum explains that the advertising maxim of reach and frequency will shift to reach and empathy. Instead of increasing the number of times you interrupt people, marketers should be creating content people want to participate in and share.

Every day, GIPHY sees over a billion searches for what people want to share. Hundreds of millions of people are searching for words like happy, hungry, love, etc. They are all literally searching for words around empathy. They want to share their feelings and to be understood.

Brands can do the same. People want to connect with brands. Advertising is just getting in the way. The old metrics of age/gender demographics and frequency of reach mean nothing compared to the new metrics of thoughts, feelings, and purpose. GIPHY helps you create content to express yourself the same way over 500 million people do every day.

Your brands need a platform for reach and empathy; a platform to communicate brand purpose and intent; where people search for content to express their thoughts and feelings; where people are searching for brands and culture. And where every user is a potential brand evangelist.

GIPHY makes content conversational. Content that you embrace, talk about and express yourself with. Make content that people empathize with. Be a brand, not an ad. Be yourself. People love you. Be the conversation. Join you in the next one.

(This article originally appeared in the 9/23 edition of Adweek’s print magazine; for more information about GIPHY for Marketers, check out:

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GIPHY is all the GIFs. We’re the first and largest GIF search engine where artists, brands, and users alike go to make everyday conversation more entertaining.

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