You thought 2016 was bad? 2017 beats it, according to our GIFs.

Tenor in 2017

2017 was a tipping point for GIFs. Beyond celebrating the GIF’s 30th birthday in May, 2017 saw GIF comments become a sensation on Facebook, there were multiple memorable Trump GIF moments; scientists successfully stored a GIF in DNA (!), and someone even built a camera that lets you “print” GIFs.

As the largest GIF platform & search engine, Tenor had an equally exciting (though arguably less dramatic) year. In 2017, GIF searches on our platform grew by 3X, now surpassing 9 billion searches every month.

Following on our research earlier this year which found that 70% of people now use GIFs and other visual expressions, we’re seeing people continue to come up with clever new ways to use GIFs. People have searched for GIFs on Tenor using more than four billion distinct emotions and reactions, all to help them nail the perfect clapback, or tell their favorite person what they mean to them.

Tenor by the numbers

Tenor was the first GIF Keyboard to launch in 2014, and three years later we're still the #1 GIF-sharing mobile app. In 2017, Tenor's bot on Facebook Messenger launched, where it quickly became the #1 bot on Messenger overall.

Tenor also saw our biggest day ever in 2017 on Thanksgiving Day, with more than 357 million GIF search requests processed across Tenor's mobile app integrations & apps. And we continued to expand internationally, with support for 30+ languages and a presence in mobile messaging apps in nearly every country worldwide.

Tenor everywhere

Tenor works with the largest messaging apps and social platforms to help people have richer conversations with GIFs. These partners continue to choose Tenor for our intelligent search engine, and its ability to surface the perfect GIF to capture any sentiment based on the Tenor Emotional Graph.

In 2017, we added hundreds of new apps to our API program, including Whatsapp, Skype, Baidu, Facebook M, Facebook Comments and more, resulting in hundreds of millions of new users.

First sponsored GIF sold

In 2017, Tenor became the first company to build a business model around GIFs, and celebrated the launch of the first ever sponsored GIF as part of Tenor’s newly launched program, Tenor Insights. Insights lets companies tap into the power of the GIF & Tenor’s emotional search engine to authentically connect with mobile audiences.

Since the program’s launch in April, Tenor has worked with major brands including Wendy’s, Nissan, Dunkin Donuts, eBay and AT&T, helping them become part of the conversation in messaging apps. And 2018 is looking to be even bigger with many more brands coming on board - stay tuned!

Tenor + showbiz

Tenor continued to work with many of today’s most-watched entertainment companies, including NBC, Warner Bros, Sony, Netflix, Fox and many more. Tenor helped promote new shows & movies, and made sure anyone using Tenor had access to the best GIFs from their favorite celebrities and characters. GIFs from our entertainment partners were viewed in search results more than 20 billion times in 2017.


GIF data science: Just how bad did 2017 suck?

2016 was famously the “worst year ever”: devastating celebrity deaths, polarizing political events, a rash of horrible crimes and extreme weather. Surely no one expected 2017 to be quite as bad, but somehow it's felt that way, with more departures of beloved celebrities, catastrophic weather and continuing political drama like many of us haven't seen in our lifetimes.

So was 2017 actually worse than 2016? Given Tenor's scale and the utility of GIFs as a communication tool, we are able to look at large scale emotional trends, such as how most people feel in a particular year. So we tapped our databases to see what we could learn about 2017.

To do this, we grouped popular emotions used in Tenor GIF searches into "clusters", and looked at how they stacked up against other emotional "clusters" in both years. For example, "crying" includes "waah", "sob", "tears", etc. We then labeled these clustered emotions as either negative or positive, and compared the data across 2016 & 2017.

The results were pretty clear: 2017 really sucked, and sucked a lot more than 2016. Negative emotions increased by 31%, and positive emotions decreased by 18%. We were also 39% more drunk (the only "neutral" emotion), which can really be interpreted in a number of ways... ¯\ _(ツ) _/¯

The "Mood Rings" of 2016 & 2017

According to the data, 2017 was much more negative year overall, but interestingly, searches for "laughing" nearly doubled since 2016. Even though we categorized "laughing" as a positive emotion, laughing is not always used in a strictly "happy" way, and the top GIFs of the year (see list further below) reflect this. The Shaq GIF could easily be used in a "laughing at the ridiculousness of everything" manner. Because of this, 2017 might have been emotionally worse than this data indicates.

When were we most emotional this year?

Beyond looking at large scale emotional trends, we also wanted to drill down and see which specific events caused us to "feel" the most in 2017, outlined in the timeline below.

We see a lot of obvious correlations between major events and the emotions people searched for when looking for a GIF on Tenor: the Super Bowl upset was the biggest “WTF” day, Hurricane Irma marked the biggest “scared” day and so on. Our personal favorite was Valentine’s day; not only was it the biggest “aww” day of the year, it was also the second highest “crying” day of 2017.

Another key takeaway from this timeline is that people are now using GIFs to express sentiments beyond just sass & joy. GIFs have very clearly become an important communication tool for the full range of human emotion.

Top Shared GIFs by Volume

Here we can see more evidence that 2017 was an emotionally taxing year. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't come across the "guy blinking" GIF (also Tenor's official GIF of the Year" for 2017), and "Baby crying" at #2 shows how badly many of us felt, and how often we felt that way.

We also see the Obama "Oh yeah" GIF as the #5 GIF of 2017 - notably, the year after he left office. This is more evidence that politics dominated our personal conversations in addition to the public news cycles.

Tenor's GIF of the Year

The "Umm confused/"Guy blinking" GIF snagged Tenor's GIF of the Year designation not only because it was the #1 most-shared new GIF of 2017, but also because of what this GIF represents about our collective psyche. There is no better GIF that communicates the bafflement so many of us experienced this year. To the people who originally created this GIF from a gaming video, and to Drew Scanlon himself, congratulations.

Top Memes of The Year

To round out our "Tenor of 2017" report, we looked at the top memes of the year across the Tenor platform. We defined a "meme" as something that went beyond GIFs to be reimagined in many different forms & iterations.

Here we see some new favorites - who hasn't watched Danielle Brigoli's famous appearance on the Dr.Phil show at this point? - and some other surprises. The lighthearted nature of these memes shows us not everything in 2017 was serious & sad; the fact that something so objectively silly as a chef seasoning food was a top GIF indicates there was appetite for comic relief amongst all the drama.