Is Text-based Marketing a Dying Breed?

Posted by Taylor Haney on Tue, Oct 1, 2013

To kick off FutureM month we have a post from Todd Peters, President, North America, of ArcSoft. Todd gives some excellent insight into how and why visual based marketing is taking over across all platforms.

todd petersTodd Peters is the President, North America, of ArcSoft, the global leader in image-intelligent technologies, including those found in over one billion mobile devices. A former Microsoft and Staples executive, Peters’ primary focus at ArcSoft is to drive growth of the company’s new direct-to-consumer business. He was a speaker at this year’s Mobile World Congress and holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Roanoke College. He also attended Stanford Business School’s Executive Management Program.

A behavioral and technological revolution is upon us and it’s a marketer’s dream. The ubiquity of smartphones, lightning-fast networks and sophisticated multimedia messaging services have changed the way we communicate. But if we consider that the human brain processes visual images 60,000 times faster than text (Research from 3M Corporation), then why have we spent so much time developing text-based solutions?

Good question.

Mobile Visual Communication is Changing Human Behavior

The fact is, the days of text-based communication are dwindling. Why? Because the powerful imaging technology in today’s mobile devices is dramatically transforming the way people interact, work and learn. Moreover, it is allowing for highly customized, targeted and immersive mobile marketing experiences.

What’s quite remarkable is that these advanced technologies don’t seem intrusive or unsolicited to us; they feel natural, as if your smartphone is simply an extension of you, your personal preferences and your everyday life. Powerful visual communication, delivered at the exact moment of relevance, can also engage people more emotionally than text. This can create exciting new business models that put highly-digestible, visually stimulating information right in the consumer’s hands.

Social Media Is All About the Image

Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram. Twitter paid a reported $1 million for Vine, which now looks like a steal, given that 5 tweets per second contain a Vine link, and that studies are showing that a branded Vine is four times more likely to be seen than a branded video. Last, but not least, Twitter itself, valued at $10.5 billion by GSV Capital Corp., one of its investors, is on the verge of an initial public offering. We are in the midst of a new wave of image-based technology, services and applications and it’s only going to get bigger and more powerful.

With an estimated 2.7 billion cameras in mobile devices expected to ship in 2018 (ABI Research), and 500 million photos uploaded and shared per day (KPCD Internet Trends 2012), trillions of images will be captured edited, posted, tagged, stored, liked and commented upon. 

Many of the breakthrough apps in the last few years have been imaging-oriented. Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat are all based on the principle that images can say more than words. Most recently, TechCrunch showcased data from comScore showing Pinterest was the fastest independent site to hit 10 million monthly uniques in the U.S., making it the fastest growing social platform in history. Twitter has also seen leaps in engagements when a Tweet carries an image. The largest social networks like Facebook and Google+ are quickly revamping their web layouts to bring images to the forefront. Currently, there are over 2.7 million "likes" and 300 million photos uploaded each day on Facebook. That’s nearly 3000 images posted per second. With vast numbers like these, the need to improve the overall quality, ease of editing, storage and management are imperative for the imaging deluge being shared each day.

Yet these are just basic imaging uses. Soon, we’ll be living in a future rich with “intelligent” image-based applications and services. The commonly accepted notion of ‘smart’ with regard to mobile devices (e.g. ‘smart phones’) will come to mean much, much more than convenient.

“Intelligent Imaging” Will be Everywhere

“Intelligent Imaging” refers to the actual software ‘thinking’ capability. For example, ‘thinking’ that combines pattern, face, and gesture recognition technologies in novel ways to provide services tailored to the customer’s particular needs. Gesture and facial recognition technology are highly sought after as more and more companies strive to compete in the digital imaging space.

ABI predicts that within one year there will be a mass adoption of this technology - all driven by mobile devices and tablets. It is projected that over 600 million smart phones and mobile devices will be shipped with vision-based gesture recognition features in 2017 (ABI Research).

Consider these technologies in a marketing and advertising context. Ads that animate the instant they detect your head has turned back to face the screen. Rich content that pops up when it detects your eyes lingering on a particularly attractive image – say, a beautiful white sandy beach in the middle of winter – and suddenly you’re allured by a tempting ad for a winter getaway.

Gesture and facial recognition and its technology cousins are creating more ways to intuitively bring us the information we didn’t even know we wanted – to engage our undivided attention, at just the right moment.

For Everything From Medicine to Marketing

Branded as a significant technological advancement in a recent piece on 60 Minutes, facial recognition technology uses sensors to capture distinct information about the shape of the face, as well as the contour of the eyes, nose, chin and general surface. As Lesley Stahl reported, "the ability of computers to identify faces has gotten 100 times better, a million times faster, and exponentially cheaper."

In addition to the myriad medical and educational opportunities that facial recognition will provide, innovative image technology is breathing new life into advertising and marketing campaigns, too. Being able to recognize a human face with a simple smart phone camera sensor is like something out of a Ray Bradbury novel, but it’s here and the possibilities are endless.

Here’s How it Can Work in Daily Life

Imagine the potential opportunities to blend smart imaging with “bricks and mortar” retail marketing :

  • You’re at the mall. You’re looking for some new sunglasses.  An app scans your face using your smartphone camera and directs you to the nearest sunglass retailer with glasses perfect for the proportions of your face.

  • You are walking through a shopping area and the technology in the billboard recognizes that you are a certain age and gender.  The billboard content changes to target what you may be looking for, such as that perfect pair of sandals, if you are a woman, or if you are an older-looking male, perhaps the billboard will shift to show that golf clubs are 20% off at the local retailer down the street.

  • Your bratty teen really needs a haircut. Now. He agrees to go only on the condition that he can check out his possibilities digitally first, so the stylist knows exactly what to do, with no misunderstanding. Done. 

Will Text-based Marketing Become a Thing of the Past?

As future imaging trends are the driving force in consumer interactions on mobile devices, we have to ask: where will we be in 5 years? 10 years? Or even 20 years? As we turn to images for more and more communication and connection with our consumers, will text-based communication and marketing completely diminish?

As the amount of information we consume on a daily basis increases, the window of opportunity to grab a consumer’s attention is rapidly decreasing. Actual images can help us to communicate faster and more emotionally. Most important, these imaging technologies can assist marketers in identifying clearly what to offer their consumers and when.

Imaging technology may not be the solution for world peace, but it will certainly have a lasting impact on the marketing industry for years to come. The most astute technology companies will invariably be riding this massive innovation wave – and using the newest, most intelligent technologies to deliver relevant, engaging information straight to their consumer’s fingertips.

Register Now for FutureM 2013

Join us at FutureM to hear more from Todd in his session, "Imaging + Communications: Driving Consumer Interactions of the Future"