23 Jul How to adapt content, from intelligent resizing to mobile ready hero images
Your customers engage with your brand’s marketing content on several channels, from multiple devices and in different contexts. It should be no surprise that you can’t just send the same variant of an image or video on all distribution channels and expect it to perform well. Adapting visual content is critical but it’s time-consuming and highly technical – how can brands manage this process more easily?
Images and videos are two of the most important forms of content marketing, able to quickly grab user attention, generate social engagement (likes, shares etc) and improve conversion rates. But the creative production of this rich media is only half of the job. In order to engage and convert, marketers and developers alike need to make sure that this content is always delivered in the best way possible at every touchpoint. They need to take into account each marketing channel, from website to social media platforms, every type of device, including smartphone, tablet and desktop, as well as user context.
Today, millennials interact with 4 devices daily. Each of these devices comes in multiple screen sizes and with different specifications like resolutions, aspect ratios etc. So when it comes to displaying media, there is no one-size-fits-all approach: images and videos need to be adapted to each platform and technical context. Otherwise, they will slow down your website’s load time, degrade the user experience, customer satisfaction and of course your conversion rates. Google claims that 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load, while a 2017 Akamai study shows that every 100-millisecond delay in website load time can cause a 6% drop in sales. It’s the classic ripple effect: a long page loading time leads to fewer page views and site traffic, a lower conversion rate and thus a loss in revenue.
So what’s behind this slow load time?
The main reason this situation arises is that visual content, which make up nearly two-thirds of web content, is too large in terms of file size, consumes a lot of bandwidth, and slows down your web pages. That’s why it’s more important than ever that brands resize and adapt this media to its technical environment. By doing so, they can ensure a smooth delivery of content, and an optimal experience for every user. But with so many types of devices, screen sizes which are constantly changing, and orientations (portrait vs landscape), perfectly optimizing the user experience means creating a number of different variants of the same image or video. Done manually, this process is very challenging, exhausting, and inefficient. Developers and marketers would have to consider many factors, such as the resolution of the image vs. the screen, the aspect ratio, the device pixel ratio, the image’s focal point etc.
Let’s take aspect ratio as an example. You may be familiar with some of the standard aspect ratios, which describes the relationship between the width and height of an image: 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1, the square ratio used across social media platforms like Instagram. Because sending the same aspect ratio image to a portrait and a landscape device will distort or stretch the image, or add a letter box (bars that appear around the image), images must be uploaded at different aspect ratios for different devices and channels. This same phenomenon holds true for videos.
Aspect ratios by device (tablet, mobile, laptop)
Aspect ratios by social media channel (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook)
For an intelligent resizing, always consider the image focal point
The problem is that when you change the aspect ratio of an image, you change its shape, and will likely end up cropping some part of it. If the subject of your image isn’t at the center, you will inevitably alter the composition of the image. Now on top of resizing an image, you have to make sure that once resized, you’re not deleting the most important part of your image, i.e; the focal point of the image.
Take this example of an image that’s cropped with the focal point in mind vs. one that’s not:
To make an image more impactful, whether its a product thumbnail on an e-commerce site, or a user-generated image on social, brands need to constantly edit and crop their assets. But measuring and cutting every single image is tedious, not to mention time-consuming.
Ensure the best experience for every viewing context
Brands need a tool that allows them to automate the process of rendering content that will always load quickly and look great, no matter the platform. An intelligent tool that can meet customer demands for better and faster omnichannel experiences, while employees can focus on designing the core content.
Digital eXperience Management (DXM) or Customer eXperience Management helps solve these image transformation and delivery challenges. It’s a technology that allows you to create content once and easily reuse it for multiple channels and devices. By automatically serving multiple variants from a single master asset, it allows you to eliminate all the guesswork and repetitive workflow involved in resizing and cropping your images.
In other words, it makes your media dynamic: you create and store the original file in your central media library (SSOT), your Digital Asset Management (DAM) will generate all the renditions requested and the Digital Experience Management tool will dynamically and intelligently deliver the most appropriate version for any screen and user. And if you are looking to publish your content to social networks, you’ll never have to waste time searching for the correct image specifications because they will be resized and cropped based on predefined settings. This puts a “create once, and publish everywhere” workflow at the heart of the solution.
From file server to business enabler
Optimizing content to the right device leads to a better brand impression and higher engagement, but adapting it for a specific customer segment or user is pivotal in maximizing the potential to drive business. Personalization is key to keep up with the demands of today’s customers, but delivering tailored brand experiences at scale requires the right tools and methods.
Digital experience solutions help you create individualized experiences by allowing you to customize assets on the fly for any given visitor. For example, if you want to personalize content to an audience in a specific location, you can automatically remove and replace the background of an image with one that will resonate better:
Dynamically remove and replace background of an image
By understanding customer context and behavior, the solution helps you deploy and automate more personalized experiences across any channel or device.
Many vendors are integrating artificial intelligence to open up even more possibilities. AI capabilities like OCR (Optical Character Recognition), focal point detection and color analysis can be used to analyze an existing image in your DAM, and automatically generate an image that is designed with the end-user in mind, such as a smartphone user. It can go beyond creating a ‘mobile-friendly’ image to creating a ‘mobile ready hero image’ (MRHI), a relatively new eCommerce rationale explaining how images optimized for a mobile audience can deliver a significant uplift in sales. By visually communicating 4 key elements, known as ‘the 4Ws’ – Who is the brand? What is the product? Which variety is it? HoW much of it is there? – an MRHI image is more likely to facilitate and motivate mobile shoppers’ purchasing decisions.
Take this example below showing a product as it appears on the physical shelf, and its still fully recognizable MRHI version:
Original packshot vs mobile ready hero image (MRHI)
As digital experience solutions become more sophisticated and leverage AI, they can help extract these 4 elements from the original picture or packshot, and render the MRHI version of the image. They thus extend far beyond tools that simply serve your files to ones that can drive more business.
Optimizing your content for multiple devices, segmented audiences, and individual users is no longer an option. But that doesn’t mean your brand needs to involve marketing, design and IT teams every step of the way. With the right solution, you can focus on building original and meaningful content, and let technology take care of the rest.