What Is the Visual Web? - eMarketer

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What Is the Visual Web?

Instagram, Pinterest are the social sites most closely associated with the visual web

October 5, 2015

The visual web is many things to many people—and marketers. According to September 2015 polling, most US brand marketers can’t put just one definition to the term: It includes design, advertising and even anthropological phenomena. What is clear is that it’s important.

Ways in Which US Brand Marketers Define the Visual Web, Sep 2015 (% of respondents)

The survey, conducted by visual web digital marketing platform GumGum, offered brand marketers several ways to describe what they thought the visual web was. Most respondents selected “all of the above,” signing on to a range of positions. The most popular single option was an explanation of the visual web as a social media phenomenon driven by the ubiquity of mobile phone cameras and the rise of photo-sharing websites.

The next-most-popular single response tied the visual web to mobile, rather than social, citing user experience and design imperatives to deal with smaller screens. And almost as many brand marketers believed the key to the visual web had to do with a basic human instinct—storytelling—and how that played out in a contemporary world full of visual media tools.

Cutting through the questions around this buzz phrase, though, the survey also found that more than nine in 10 brand marketers polled thought visual elements were important to their daily marketing functions, including 69.2% who thought they were very important.

Types of Visual Content that US Brand Marketers Are Most Likely to Integrate into Marketing Programs, Sep 2015 (% of respondents)

Custom video and photography were the top types of visual content that respondents planned to integrate into marketing programs over the next six months to one year.

These visual elements are most likely to show up in mobile and social media, which brand marketers rated the two best-suited marketing channels for visuals such as images and video.

Asked specifically about social media, respondents said Instagram was the service most closely associated with the visual web. At 92.4% of respondents, Instagram was about 10 percentage points ahead of second-place Pinterest. Facebook, at 58.1%, and Vine, at 56.2%, were far behind, and less than half of respondents (47.6%) named Snapchat.


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