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CMOCouncilPhotoShelter-Growing-Importance-Visual-Assets-Aug2015Almost two-thirds of senior marketers in North America feel that visual assets (photos, videos, illustrations and infographics) are core to their brand story communications, according to [download page] a study from the CMO Council and Libris. The report finds that while photography is for now the most critical visual asset, video and infographics have the brightest future.

Currently, 46% of survey respondents – North American senior marketing leaders who hail primarily from B2B (52%) and hybrid (30%) organizations – perceive photography to be critical to their marketing and storytelling strategies. While fewer see video (36%), infographics (19%) and illustrations (15%) as being critical, a majority find them currently important.

That’s likely to change in the near future, as video (79%) and infographics (60%) are tabbed for increases in importance and use by a majority of survey respondents. The results bring to mind data contained in MarketingCharts’ 2015 B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report, in which B2B marketers forecast video as becoming the most indispensable content asset this year. Other data cited in the report finds virtually all buyers recommending that vendors improve their content by supporting it with research and data, further indicating a role for infographics.

Beyond being a storytelling tool, 6 in 10 respondents feel that visual content can add excitement to content, helping capture attention and ensure engagement. Other benefits recognized by roughly half of respondents include demystifying or explaining complex factors or elements of the story/narrative (52%) and showcasing products or innovations in a clear and quick manner (46%).

Despite those benefits, the main challenge to maximized investments in visual media is the lack of elevation to a more strategic experience dialogue. The report’s authors attribute this to content strategy and organizational silos, noting also that only about one-quarter of respondents currently have a process or system in place to aggregate, catalogue and manage all visual assets across their organization. Apparently the main roadblock to centralization is that it’s just not a priority, an understandable response given the multitude of marketing channels, tools and techniques that today’s marketer needs navigate.

The report finds that a centralized process has its greatest impact in aligning teams around visuals to create a unified experience and by streamlining creative processes. The report’s sponsor – PhotoShelter’s Libris (a visual asset management platform) – clearly has an interest in these findings. Still, the results fit within the broader importance ascribed today to data centralization (and technology’s role within). And if visual media is indeed to increase in importance (the rapid rise in popularity of social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat are good indicators on the B2C side), then some type of centralized system for managing these assets will presumably become more of a priority.

About the Data: The online survey was fielded in Q2 2015 among 177 senior-level marketers, 52% of whom are from B2B organizations, 30% from organizations selling B2B2C and the remaining 18% from strictly B2C organizations. One-quarter come from organizations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

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