It’s been an exciting few years for everyone who loves Web design. Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and other platforms have ushered in a new era in which large, striking images take center stage. But if the visual Web, as the phenomenon has come to be known, is a well-established trend among publishers, some marketers are only now beginning to catch up. Let’s take a look at how the visual Web might cause us to rethink some of our fundamental ideas about online marketing.
The first thing both publishers and marketers should appreciate about the visual Web is that it’s not only about the aesthetics. Studies show that users are more likely to click on a headline that’s accompanied by a large image – a fact that helps explain why the photos in your Facebook News Feed keep getting larger. And the visual Web is uniquely suited to e-commerce. Pinterest is so effective at driving conversions largely because it offers such compelling images of the products people love.
Publishers and marketers are now aware of the importance of capturing people’s attention with bold visuals. We’ve seen ad units grow bigger and bigger in recent years, and plenty of sites, such as Slate, have undertaken redesigns that clearly have native branded images in mind.
Still, what we’ve seen thus far may just be the beginning. Take the case of TripleLift, an ad tech start-up that’s bringing the visual Web to the world of scalable display advertising. As TripleLift sees it, there’s no reason that most display units need to remain exiled on the borders of a Web page. TripleLift places its units in the heart of a site’s design and leaves plenty of room for the visual. So far the strategy appears to be working. TripleLift says that its ads average 15 times the click-throughs of banner ads.
Marketers aren’t only looking to place bigger and better images on publisher sites. They’re also bringing the lessons of the visual Web to their own sites. Fashion brands such as Burberry, Warby Parker, and Zady are leading the way with sites so visually appealing it’s easy to forget how uninspired most retailer sites were only a few years ago.
If fashion brands have led the way, they’re hardly alone in embracing the visual Web. Food companies, such as Chobani, are now replacing text-heavy sites with arresting photos. Even some automobile manufacturers are doing away with most copy and letting gorgeous photos and videos sell the cars by themselves.
It’s a safe bet that the visual Web trend will eventually spread to almost every industry. Why? Because we now have enough data to show that images have a very powerful impact on how people interact with the Web. This doesn’t mean that text or written descriptions and articles are going to disappear from websites. But it does mean that every online marketer needs to be aware of the importance of the visual Web when thinking about campaigns. The visual Web has already changed the Internet as we know it. Now it’s changing marketing, too.
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