The Rise of Visual Marketing — and What It Means for You

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A picture is worth a thousand words . Humans are visual creatures. So much so, in fact, that 90% of all information within our brain is processed visually . What does this mean for us as marketers? It means responsible, authentic messaging will always resonate and be powered by how and when you can invoke that beauty to the beholder. But as tech has evolved, we’ve gotten a bit distracted with the dizzying quandaries of statistics, KPIs and tools, only to realize that authentic cognitive efforts will always reign - and nothing points to this more than the rise of visual formats cross-channel, as experienced at the recent Google Marketing Live Event.   In league with user privacy and responsibility topics, the rise of visual marketing is compounding a shift on how the funnel converges. Checkout our takeaways below:  

Google Lens: Browse the Planet.

Have you ever wanted to search for something “ like this” as opposed to “ exactly this”? Trying to transcribe something you visually experienced into a restricted text box? Lens can now style search decor or fashion images that spark your inspiration and then show you similar items in real time all by pointing the camera on your phone at what you desire or tapping just a part of a greater image. Lens will return images and context for you matching that specific visual query . Of course, Google Translate , which has been on the market for a while, gets an upgrade, translating signs, brochures and other tourist must-haves across hundreds of languages with the nod of a phone in real time. Lens is quickly taking visual search to the next level by utilizing your phone to capture any image as a browseable query .  

Showcase Shopping Ads: Experience a Storefront From Images.

We are all used to Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Shopping Ads within search. These ad types are generally response-oriented images that bring users to a specific product to purchase. Boldly shifting from this methodology, visual browsing experiences actually tend to be much more discovery-based - even within the lower funnel of search. Showcase Shopping Ads offer an experience for discovery against non-brand or general queries from users. The new formats appear much like their predecessors, but once clicked they will expand to a larger lifestyle or hero image with a list of brand-specific products beneath headlines and text. The UX feels much like a storefront, enlisting all the feelings of branding while stepping into the image-based visual commerce arena.   

Gallery Ads: The Look & Feel within Your SERP.

Gallery Ads are immersive, swipeable ad formats residing at the top of your search engine results page (SERP). Think of this as similar formats like carousel ads in social environments with the huge advantage of being within your Google SERP.  Early testing shows a 25% uplift in Gallery formats over standard search and text formats . They are generally already battle-tested due to being born from social feeds like Facebook and Instagram. One item that is often overlooked within this format is the immersive (swipeable) nature. Any instance of user immersion will generally garner stronger intent or action in the otherwise static nature of search.   

Discovery Ads & Feed: Let’s Try Something New.

Capitalizing on intent is a consistent tactic for marketers. Now we’re seeing the rise of capitalizing on open discovery . If inspiration is sparked in the mind of a user, why not start the funnel at that spark to find something new? Through opted-in user signals, the Discover Feed resides on the homepage, and ads will serve across YouTube and Gmail products as well. The result: opted in, user-specific discovery moments - now available for your marketing tactics.  

Augmented Reality: Experience Immersion.  

Imagine you would like to see how a couch fits in your living room to scale, without having to break out the measuring tape or even visiting the store. AR formats will allow you to render a scaled 3D model via your phone lens right in your home. Want to see how your new Porsche looks in the driveway pre-purchase? Instantly render the car to scale and see how it looks. These types are AR formats with a “view in 3D option” will undeniably become a game changer of not only media but product engagement as well.   

Visual Authenticity Meets Usefulness.

We are seeing the intersection of search, native, display, and shopping start to align in a unified channel. The format is increasingly visual, mobile and steeped in the immersive horizon with emerging tech like AR. E-commerce then becomes an experience that is full-funnel, taking on an Amazon-esque attack (more on this in our next post) from the full spectrum. The gleam of visual and immersive efforts aligns with the incantation of winning user respect and responsible marketing by seeking not invasiveness, but useful authenticity.  It’s clear that one year after Google integrated its tools into the comprehensive Google Marketing Platform, it intends to continue to shake up the landscape of digital marketing as we know it.