People—people like you and me—conduct more than a billion searches for GIFs and stickers on our messaging apps every day. At the heart of those GIF results is, often, Giphy, the shareable online database and search engine of those short looping soundless videos.
While it’s all fun and good to send a friend a looping video of a dog on a skateboard or what have you, Alex Magnin sees tremendous business opportunities, despite not being profitable—yet.
“Over the past two-plus years we have built out a set of products and services to help marketers take advantage of, and be a part of, this scaled user behavior,” says Magnin, the head of revenue for Giphy, which boasts in the ballpark of 10 percent of the search traffic of Google. A full 70 percent of those searches take place in our messaging apps, which means Magnin has a few insights into how people are using messaging apps and direct messaging features on social media platforms and “all of the places where messaging is happening that you don’t think of at first flush,” he says.
Magnin (with a hard “G,” just like GIF), was speaking on the “Ad Lib” podcast this week to talk about harnessing that conversational power of GIFs for brands. “That’s the big unlock Giphy can provide to marketers: Access in a desired, wanted, value-exchange way,” says Magnin. “A branded GIF has as much place on Giphy as a Nike swoosh on shoes.”
Giphy, founded in 2013 and backed by $150 million in venture funding, has spent the last two years building out its advertising business. Magnin says there are two types of brands that succeed on the platform: those with strong visual branding, and those with an organic connection to big cultural water-cooler events like awards shows and live sports.
“We’re very aware this is a new format,” he says. “The biggest pain point we’re working really hard to solve is, ‘How do I do the creative and how do I do it well?’ This is the type of ad product where the stuff has to be good.”
Magnin breaks down what works and what doesn’t on the platform—plus what search terms tend to be most popular (good news: we humans trend toward positive sentiments). He also gets into his previous role as the revenue guy at the blogging platform Thought Catalog and what it felt like to ride the Facebook News Feed wave to unreasonable scale earlier this decade. Before that, he was a paralegal who was, he says, lucky to be laid off.