Tenor has long positioned itself as a GIF search tool working across a number of different platforms, ranging from its own keyboard to Facebook Messenger. As such, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Google — a search platform — decided to acquire the company toward the end of march. Tenor at the time said it powered more than 12 billion GIF searches every month, and that kind of search volume fits pretty neatly with Google’s quest to index the world’s information in a way that’s easily searchable. LinkedIn adds another component to that Swiss army knife, and it also gives Google another entry point to a different platform when it comes to some variation of GIF search.
The new engine is available for 50% of users today, and will be rolling out to more users over time. This gives LinkedIn messenger a robust GIF search platform, as well as ways to find trending GIFs, as well as a custom trending stream based on GIFs most often found in their network.
GIFs are increasingly popular in messaging apps, and Tenor is one example of how it’s become almost table stakes for any messenger platform. While LinkedIn is mostly a place where you’d expect to be closing deals and acquiring customers — or searching for a job — it doesn’t really change the core value proposition of what a GIF provides. Companies like Tenor seek to position GIFs as a way to compress more information (or some kind of emotion) into a compact form factor that has very little friction inside a messenger platform.
Tenor is going to exclusively power the GIF search engine, which is going to be another pretty substantial win for Google as it looks to expand its search capabilities into other areas of the Internet — even if it’s just a consumer-oriented GIF format. Tenor can places sponsored GIFs inside its quick search interface, offering brands a unique opportunity to capture the attention of users as well as creating a new advertising category that could be very appealing for larger marketers. Google, at its heart, is an advertising business and finding these new use cases (even if it doesn’t plan to get started on them right away) is something that would fit neatly inside its model.
This also gives Google a unique entry point into different platforms, including even Facebook Messenger, which may seek to find GIF search platforms and use them indiscriminately. Google already has its own keyboard with GBoard. As Google looks to further integrate with a typical user’s lifestyle, tapping the popularity (and potential) of GIFs is something that will be important down the line.
Messages on LinkedIn have grown 60% year-over-year, the company said as part of the announcement, as messaging increasingly becomes a core component of any platform that has any kind of sticky human communication component. That’s especially important for trying to explain the nuance behind a connection while building that relationship through a faux-warm intro as well as finding ways to appeal to customer acquisition. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in mid 2016 for $26.2 billion, essentially picking up one of the largest customer acquisition channels in the world.