GIF Marketing: How to use GIFs in Your Ads

by Federica Rustico

13 min read
Last Updated: May 26, 2023

If you often find yourself scratching your head about how to attract more people to your business, you’re not alone. As marketers, we’re all having to deal with reduced attention spans. For those of you who can’t quite picture the struggle, try to imagine going on a speed date and having 8 seconds to get someone interested in you. Now you know our pain! Not only are attention spans decreasing, digital platforms are overcrowded by content of all sorts, leading businesses to constantly have to fight to get a chunk of the space. So how in the world are some companies managing to create viral ads that appeal to everyone from the oldest generations to the most tech-savvy Millennials? Simple, they know who they’re talking to, and they know them quite well. This isn’t exactly the discovery of the century—successful marketing requires understanding your target audience's language and communicating in that language. Let me remind you that your customers are human beings, too. They have the same kinds of conversations and social interactions with their besties as you do. So stop looking at them as a number and start picturing how you would approach them in real life too. 

How to use GIFs in your ads

But some formats have proven to work better than others when placed under the right circumstances. In fact, the use of GIFs and other forms of animated content in advertising has yielded impressive results for several brands. All three key metrics (CTR, engagement, and open rates) improve when they’re used. This demonstrates that consumers have an insatiable need for GIFs and other forms of animated material, both within and outside of advertising. But what, exactly, sets GIFs apart from other types of media? Should we just write off the use of GIFs and other forms of animated content in marketing as the next internet craze, or is there some truth to the claims being made for them? Before we tell you how to use GIFs to improve your ads, let's examine why they're so effective.

GIF and animated content marketing's potential

As a general rule, people enjoy animated videos more than any other type of video. We're a culture that worships at the altar of animation, whether it be cartoons, movies, or video games. And there’s even a scientific reason for why we enjoy animated images, apparently:

But the reasons aren’t only psychological. Have you ever given thought to why it is that you enjoy them so much? Is it merely for laughs, or is there something deeper? Audience responses to countless pieces of animated material, such as GIFs and stickers, have been analyzed by marketing specialists, who have identified a handful of other fundamental causes.


In the content creation industry, this trend is being hailed as a benefit. As we said previously, we’re dealing with reduced attention spans and an overcrowding of online content. The internet is stuffed to the gills with information, so you have to work harder to get the attention of your customers. How are marketers battling these not-so pleasant circumstances? 

The current trend is to make shorter pieces of content that are nonetheless enjoyable to read or watch and that provide useful information. Think of TikToks, Reels and YouTube Shorts to get what I’m talking about. There's no better format for this than a GIF. They attract the reader's attention and provide information without taking up too much time. So when it comes to online material, GIFs are ideal for the attention-starved. They are straightforward in every sense of the word.

The best of both worlds

As marketers we always have to think of the Return on Investment on any marketing campaign. That means we have to take into account the amount of time it takes us to produce a specific marketing material. Videos can be time-consuming and complicated to edit, but photos are so last century. To bridge the gap between still images and moving ones, GIFs are the perfect format. There are times when you need something more than simply an image, but less than a full video. Examples of this type of material include responses from customers, announcements of new products, and brief presentations.

Don’t get me wrong, you can use video, and you should. But you should always ask yourself if it makes sense to make a video when all you need is some sort of basic animation. Using GIFs instead of still images or videos can be quite beneficial for small businesses and marketing campaigns.

How to use GIFs in your ads

Excellent on the go

Always assume that your customer is multitasking and reading your material in fits and starts. So our quest to get our message across just got even more difficult. How can you get your message across to them without screaming at them? You always have to take into consideration that the caption or video may not be seen by everyone. These people are the ideal target audience for GIFs. It's memorable because it's short and engaging. In addition, most GIFs can be viewed without much trouble on a mobile device, making them ideal for a customer who is frequently on the go and uses a variety of different programs.


If you want to increase brand recognition and word-of-mouth, you need to make your content easily shareable. But before we get into it, what kind of content do you think users share? They’ll most likely share your content when they have experienced an emotional response to it (such as laughter, intrigue, or astonishment). GIFs can be used anywhere text can be: in comments, chats, blogs, and emails. 

Visual storytelling 

Introducing movement into your ads is a great way to capture attention and draw people in. You can use simple animations such as small objects moving across the screen, or more complex ones with characters or scenes. Animations can be used to tell stories or explain complex concepts in a short amount of time. By using visuals, you can easily grab people’s attention and communicate your message quickly. Animations can also be used to tell your brand’s story and create an emotional connection with your customers. You can use animations to create a vivid picture of your brand and communicate its values. 

They make your ad stand out

Animations can help to make your ad stand out from the crowd and increase engagement. People are more likely to remember an ad that has an animation, so it’s a great way to make an impact. Animations can also be used to add interactivity to your ad. People can click on elements within the ad to learn more about your product or service. This can help to engage people and encourage them to take action.

GIFs as ads

If you want your campaigns to yield better results, using the GIF format (Graphics Interchange Format) is a great idea. A lot of well-known companies and prestigious advertising firms have tried using GIFs in their commercials with great success. So, using GIFs for marketing purposes is about more than just making your brand seem friendly and approachable.

No doubt you're thinking, "What are GIF commercials and how can I use GIFs as ads?". Don’t sweat it. In order to make your GIF advertisement experiment a cinch, we have put together a few use cases and best practices for you.

Ads in the form of animated GIFs on social media platforms

If you compare the click-through rates (CTRs) of ads on various social media sites, apps, and websites, you'll notice that it's getting more challenging to generate decent results. In general, audiences respond more favorably to videos because of their interactive nature and the stories they tell. Views and completion rates are both greater for shorter videos.

But creating a video may need a lot of time, while making a GIF only takes a few seconds. Ads can reach more people when you compress your material into short, entertaining animations and share it via GIFs.

Ads in the realm of digital marketing can benefit from the adaptability of GIFs, which can be used to illustrate a wide variety of concepts, including:

Guidelines for Success:

When creating a GIF-based commercial, less is more in terms of text and more is more in terms of visuals. Advertisements on social media are more likely to be clicked on if they include eye-catching visuals. In order to make a good impression on your customers, you need high-quality photos and animations. Don't want them to form an opinion based on a single unflattering photo, do you? Make sure the transitions and effects don't overpower the content.

How to use GIFs in your ads

Creating the perfect 10-second GIF animation can be a time-consuming process, and you may not have enough of it. Sometimes, though, a generic GIF won't do, especially for a crucial advertisement. To ensure that your designs are always spot-on, it's best to hire experts. 

GIFs in email marketing

Everything you do in terms of advertising is magnified by your email list and email marketing. By sending out a newsletter, you may communicate with an already-engaged audience. Because of this, email marketing has one of the greatest conversion rates of any medium. That being said, slacking off is not an option. 

All of this points to a compelling argument in favor of including GIFs in email newsletters as a means of advertising. The problem with newsletters, though, is that customers receive a plethora of emails, so you have to hook them inside the first five seconds or they'll hit the "Back" or "Delete" button.

In addition to being quick to load, the excitement they generate in the subscriber makes them more likely to give you a few extra seconds of their time.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind while using GIFs for newsletter promotion:

If you're sending out a newsletter, don't bury the message under a sea of GIFs. To reduce clutter, use only one GIF that conveys the intended message and is well-designed. Your email may be marked as Spam if you include too many or the inappropriate size GIFs. To ensure your GIF displays correctly, double-check its dimensions and send yourself a test email before sending it to anybody else.

Animated gifs for online advertising banners

Today, we recognize banner ads as one of the web's most venerable traditions. They have been used and proven reliable over and over again. Not surprisingly, banner ads have been using GIFs since at least the 1980s. Advertisements posted on websites are a fantastic method of reaching out to potential customers, but the question is how to increase the number of people who actually click on them.

Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and people are abandoning online pages faster than ever, making it harder for banner ads to stand out. The ideal way to do this is using GIFs, which are a synergistic blend of still photos and moving ones and are therefore likely to attract a lot of views.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can increase the number of clicks you receive from GIF-based advertisements:

GIF-based outdoor digital ads

Is it possible for GIFs to have an impact outside the digital sphere? It sure is. Traditional billboards are quickly being replaced by digital ones, therefore it's time we start thinking outside the box too.

Digital billboards provide you the option of using images or videos in your ads, but GIFs are more fun, less expensive, more noticeable, and easier to make. It's preferable than long-form advertisements when one has to wait at a stoplight or board a public transportation vehicle.

Netflix's GIF-based digital billboard campaign in France skyrocketed the company's brand awareness and quickly became one of the company's most talked-about ads. The billboards were about promoting the streaming service's wide selection of French films and television shows. The campaign featured GIFs of some of the most popular series on Netflix to spark conversation on social media. It was designed to increase awareness of Netflix's library of French content and encourage people to explore the titles available.

The GIF billboard is an excellent tool for boosting recognition of your business among locals, and it even increases the likelihood of a sale.

Should you download GIFs or make your own?

Now that you know the value of GIFs for your company, it’s time to put them to their best commercial use. And yet, there is another, more pressing problem to solve. There are billions of GIFs online, so it's likely that you can find a GIF website that offers an appropriate GIF for your needs. One can be found quite quickly that fits the desired atmosphere, tone, and target demographic.

Yet, should you really be using it for your commercials? Certainly not if you intend to make unique branded material. Plus, a memorable and distinctive brand encounter. 

GIF sites like GIPHY and Tenor let you browse a wide selection of high-quality GIFs, but they aren't always the ideal option, especially when it comes to creating content for regular social media posts, interacting with customers, or having serious dialogues online.

There is more at stake with GIF advertising than meets the eye. Animating your material will make it more interesting and user-friendly. If you want your brand's credibility and market value to shine through, custom-made GIFs are the way to go.

There are many benefits to using a custom GIF, such as:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you upload GIFs to ads manager?

When creating a video ad in Ads Manager, a GIF can be used in the following ways:

Click the "add a video" button. Pick out the GIF you want to use. Select "Upload" and add the.gif file like you would any other video clip.

Are GIFs good for ads?

Adding motion to your ads is a fantastic method to grab people's attention and entice them to click through. You can utilize anything from simple, object-based animations to more involved animations including characters or scenes. With animation, you can quickly convey a narrative or clarify a tricky idea to your audience. Using animated images is a great way to get your point out fast and get people's attention. You may utilize animations to express your brand's story and connect with your audience on an emotional level.

Can you run GIFs on Google Ads?

Yes, as long as you adhere to the guidelines. All GIF ads must have a framerate of no more than 5 frames per second, and animations must be no longer than 30 seconds in length. Both the images and the text on the website must be appropriate for all ages.