How to Adapt to Today’s Visual Culture

By Lori Turner-Wilson

Great advertising engages our senses. While we may not be able to touch or taste a product through an ad, with the right visual, we get a sense for what it’s like through another’s eyes.

Compelling imagery draws us in and helps us experience the brand, if only virtually. In fact, Victoria University researchers discovered consumers are more likely to trust a brand’s claims when images are present.

A synopsis of several bodies of research from sources like The New York Times, National Retail Federation and PR Newswire was compiled this year by MDG Agency with surprising results.

Articles with images get 94 percent more views than those without. Including a photo in a press release increases views by 45 percent. Over 60 percent of consumers are more likely to contact a business when an image shows up in local search engine results. On e-commerce sites, 67 percent of consumers say the quality of the image is “very important” in selecting a product for purchase – even more so than product info and consumer ratings.

So why the significant shift toward this visual trend? There are an estimated 2.5 billion camera phones in use around the world today resulting in about 375 billion photos taken a year. This has led to two interesting trends: 1) A significant increase in photo creation with 10 percent of all photos ever taken, in the history of mankind, occurring over the last year, and 2) Photos becoming the new universal language for younger generations with social media “phenoms” Pinterest and Instagram offering interactivity with images.

There is also a trend away from overly styled photography toward less manufactured, social-media style imagery in response to consumers growing weary of being “sold.” Marketers are following suit by utilizing photos consumers might have actually taken themselves and shared on social networks. In fact, upscale retail brands Tiffany and Coach have dedicated street-style photographers that create digital ad campaigns shared on Facebook, Pinterest and other websites.

Upscale online dress-rental company Rent the Runway now features real women wearing the brand’s clothes on its home page versus models. Traditional brand Lancome took a risk and hired a makeup artist with a large YouTube following to create homemade-style “how to” videos that generated a million views in a few short days.

Those advertising a brand will do well to realize that imagery is not only more important now than ever before, but consumers’ preferences are shifting. The presence of authentic, less manufactured imagery engages buyers and drives sales.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (