Use of GIFs in advertising is allowed on Facebook but this is often very deceptive. Many advertisers fall into the trap of using GIFs in their advertisements, it’s very easy and with websites like GIPHY it looks like you can conquer the world.
In order to use a GIF for advertising you are going to need to hold the copyright to the GIF and the images within the GIF or have permission to use them from the Copyright holder. GIFs like Video are a sequence of images, and this is where things can get troublesome.
Let’s say you have found a GIF, it features characters from a Marvel film performing actions intermixed with DC characters reacting. There are three questions you need to ask yourself:
1: Do I own the Copyright, or have permission to use images from the Marvel Film/s
2: Do I own the Copyright, or have permission to use images from the DC Film/s
3: This might be a transformative and legal use of the GIF under Fair Use where the GIF creator has used it for let’s say an editorial or parody purpose. – This doesn’t mean you can use it! You would also need the permission from the person who made the GIF in this case! This means you will need permission from three sources to use this GIF, as it will be unlikely the creator will have the legal right to pass on these rights to you, even if they own the rights to use the images. For UK businesses Fair Use doesn’t apply. We have Fair Dealing which allows no scope for advertising.
If you make a GIF with images you have the rights to use or have created yourself, then it is absolutely fine to use this GIF in your adverts. This applies as long as they are not modifications of someone else’s work which you have adapted without permission.
Here are four examples of GIFs you can use!
1: You are a keen photographer and you take a series of images then knit them together into a GIF.
2: You take some video footage of food being prepared and convert this footage into a GIF.
3: You hire an artist to create an animation for you for use in the advert and have the rights signed over to you.
4: You contact the owners of the rights to a film and get permission to use a GIF you have created from that film.
The first two GIFs are fine to use because the content is created entirely by you. You will be able to upload these and use it in a Facebook Ad! The third one will be fine because you have the rights to use the animation. The fourth could be problematic even if you have the rights as someone can still file a DMCA against you on behalf of the owners which could result in your advert being shut down.
But Isn’t Using GIFs Fair Use?
Fair use goes out the window pretty quickly when it comes to Advertising except under very specific circumstances. As Fair Use is a very big grey area, it is recommended to not take the risk, even if you believe that your work is a clear example designed to educate rather than sell a product. Snippets of work would need to be used and bound together in a very specific way. It is best not to take the risk.
If you promote your company using someone else’s work, it might be seen as them representing your company which may lead to them taking legal action. If you benefit from their work, trademarks or copyrights financially in any way, you could get into serious trouble.
Let’s say you own a cake company and you craft a Spiderman cake. (This would be legally dangerous despite the fact so many businesses get away with it.) If you advertise the cake and use GIFs, Images or Video of Spiderman, it would be seen as you using Spiderman to sell products, and without those rights, you could end up in serious trouble. It’s best not to take any risks and make your own GIFs using materials you have the rights to.
So How Do I Upload My GIF?
It is easy to both publish a post on your page using a GIF or uploading them using Ads Manager. It’s possible to use GIFS for adverts on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network. When GIFs are uploaded, they will play in a loop in the same way as videos. GIFs can be uploaded with any option that allows the upload of Video. If you don’t want to put your gif directly on Facebook you can use a website like GIPHY to upload them.
Facebook recommends using high quality GIFs for better results with subtle motion, which means a slower moving GIF is much more appealing than something with erratic and jerky movements. They also recommend you don’t have more than 20% text in the image, try to avoid grainy or flashing GIFS. If you’re using these kind of GIFs for advertisement purposes, the adverts may not be approved. Some older mobile devices may have issues playing GIFs so we would recommend using video instead.
I’m a social media marketing specialist based in Wivenhoe, the CEO of Fantasoft and wannabe space adventurer.