Why Google bought Tenor – the GIF platform

Why Google bought Tenor – the GIF platform

By acquiring the GIF search engine – Tenor, Google hopes to improve the relevance of its search results of GIF, a image format that celebrated its 30 years in 2017.


With the increase in popularity of social networks, GIFs have become a very popular format on the Internet. The net giant has therefore purchased one of the heavyweights in the sector, Tenor.

Created in 2014 by three American entrepreneurs, this platform is a database and a search engine for animated images like Giphy, its main competitor. Although the amount of the transaction has not been revealed, the stakes are high since Tenor claims 12 billion requests per month. For several years, GIFs have become references in the web culture.

This is a strategic decision for the number one search engine. Google will be able to improve the relevance of his GIF results in Google Images. Google is offering a way to improve its services. The firm said the site Tenor will not change operation and will retain its autonomy. The challenge of the acquisition is the development of synergies between the platforms through API (interfaces between applications).

For Tenor, the challenge is to compete with GIPHY with which it is currently has about 300 million monthly users. “We announce that Tenor has been acquired by Google to help us achieve the mission that it was given -to help 3 billion mobile users to find the best way to express themselves visually,” said the firm in a press release . The mobile is indeed the market to conquer. The 37-employee company has managed to have its search engine embedded in messaging applications such as WhatsApp or Messenger. Tenor is leader on the latter, the only other being competitor GIPHY. A market has recently opened with the establishment of these search engines on Instagram and Snapchat. Tenor could win this market by proposing effective moderation on its hosting of animated images, according to Les Echos.

An economic model similar to Google’s

Like Google with Adwords, since the end of 2017 Tenor has been offering companies to sponsor GIFs on specific keywords. The user can therefore share with his friends branded content highlighted in the results. The search engine has won about twenty contracts since 2017.

To attract more and more users, the search engine also offers exclusive content. Partnerships have been established with giants in the audio visual sector such as Netflix, Universal Pictures and Dreamworks. When a series or film comes out on the screens, companies create GIFs themselves to accentuate the viral effect of their programs.

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