Tenor, a popular GIF platform with more users than Twitter, was acquired Tuesday for an undisclosed amount by Google.
Google said Tenor will remain a separate brand, but that GIFs will be featured on many of its services moving forward.
“Tenor surfaces the right GIFs in the moment so you can find the one that matches your mood,” Cathy Edwards, director of engineering at Google Images, said in a post. “Tenor will help us do this more effectively in Google Images as well as other products that use GIFs, like Gboard.”
Tenor says it sees some 12 billion searches every month, and brands such as Dunkin’ Donuts, AT&T, Sprint, Nestle, Nissan and KFC pay it $100,000 to $500,000 to appear in relevant GIF search results performed by consumers, according to a recent profile in Bloomberg Businessweek.
GIFs have become a natural extension of language, especially with younger consumers, and Google’s acquisition likely signals a new medium that requires search—and needs to be rationalized.
“Through first glance GIFs might seem frivolous, they’re actually a powerful concept,” Ben Clarke, co-founder and president of digital agency The Shipyard says. “In a very compact frame they combine images, story and text. From an advertiser’s perspective this gives them back some of their tools they may feel they’ve lost in other mediums.”
And with Google’s help, he adds, “those GIFs will become a part of the normal fabric of search and, consequently, of commerce. This will have some of the benefits of biddable media—targeting, efficacy—but at least on paper could reinject some personality into digital ads that in some ways have become stale, like text search ads.”