Finding the perfect GIF to express yourself in a text or on social media is something of an art form. Google recognizes how much we use animated images to communicate, and wants to make it easier to find the perfect one to match your mood, as well as assert its position as the leader in search.
The search engine giant is buying Tenor, the startup behind a popular mobile GIF keyboard, to power searches for GIFs on Google Images and other platforms like Google’s keyboard app Gboard. Google fields millions of GIF searches per day, Cathy Edwards, the director of engineering at Google Images, said in a statement announcing the acquisition yesterday.
Tenor’s app lets people search and share GIFs on platforms like Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Slack, among others. The four-year-old firm said it hit more than 300 million members in 2017 and now receives more than 12 billion queries per month. Company reps previously told Quartz that it aims to put a Tenor GIF search box in every keyboard and interface, mirroring the ubiquity of Google’s search box.
Advertisers are also heavy users. They pay the company between $100,000 and $500,000 to run sponsored GIFs inside its search results, Bloomberg reported. Last Halloween, for example, Dunkin’ Donuts targeted US mobile users with a GIF of a zombie in desperate need of caffeine.
Google, which makes the vast majority of its revenue from advertising, is always looking for new ways to appeal to marketers, especially as rivals like Facebook, Amazon, and Snap chip away at its market share. The acquisition also further asserts Google’s all-consuming dominance over the search engine space.
Tenor will continue to operate as a distinct brand after the purchase, the companies said.