Sponsored Content: Cloudinary – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Sat, 28 Aug 2021 01:15:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.2 Your eleventh-hour SEO intel on Google’s Core Web Vital metrics /your-eleventh-hour-seo-intel-on-googles-core-web-vital-metrics-348381 Thu, 06 May 2021 11:00:34 +0000 /?p=348381 With page experience a definite search ranking signal moving forward, improving web performance and optimizing rich media becomes even more important to business success.

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If you ventured onto the web in the 1990s, you were inundated with content, left to your own methods of finding relevant information — until Google, that is. Back then, the now go-to search engine “began building algorithms that scored the content it was indexing against specific criteria,” and decades later, those criteria are still evolving. 

Google is a dominant voice in search and has a unique understanding of what contributes to a good user experience online. The company utilizes real user metrics, lab tests and other research to continually update its ranking signals, of which there are now more than 200. For years, businesses have been building websites and strategizing for on-page SEO, focused on refining site aspects like URL structures, meta descriptions, alt and title tags, target keywords, and keyword density in order to improve their ranking in search results. 

While the basics of search engine optimization are still important, never before has Google been so clear in its prioritization of the end-user experience than in 2020, with its announcement of new Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals measure real-world user experiences

The identification of these metrics — Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift — remove ambiguity around the impact of web performance on search rankings. Simply put, sites will be rewarded by Google for improving the visual and interactive experience for online users. 

Here’s a look at the three metrics with Google’s recommended thresholds for each: 

  1. Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP — This metric measures the loading time for a page’s main content, which is oftentimes a hero image or other visual element. Google’s threshold here? Less than 2.5 seconds.  It’s important to note that in 2011, Kissmetrics found that 47% of consumers expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. That was 10 years ago. User expectations have only increased since that time, further emphasizing the need for sites to visually load as fast as possible for an ideal user experience. 
  2. First Input Display, or FID  — Interactivity is measured with FID, assessing the time it takes for a page to respond to user input, like clicking on a dropdown menu, engaging with a video or filling out a form. A user expects that when a page looks “ready” for them to engage, that it’s actually able to be viewed and interacted with as intended. Google’s threshold for FID is now set at less than or equal to 100 milliseconds. 
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS  — Page stability, especially on mobile devices, is another element of the user experience that can cause someone to bounce from a site. CLS measures any unexpected shift of visual page content as that content “paints” to the screen. The CLS threshold, as determined by Google, is less than or equal to 0.1. 

With the algorithm update taking effect next month, adherence to Core Web Vitals will impact how businesses acquire site visitors and, in the case of retailers, B2B businesses or e-commerce brands, convert them to buyers. This explains why Google has observed “a median 70% increase in the number of users engaging with Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights.” Organizations recognize the real opportunity at hand for improving their Core Web Vital scores for meaningful business benefits. 

There are real consequences for those who sleep on the Core Web Vital developments

With these metrics knocking on the door, ready to influence search results, the time is now to take action. If your website falls into the ‘Needs Improvement’ or ‘Poor’ windows of measurement, the effectiveness of your on-page SEO efforts will be diminished. Not only that, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot, investing more in paid search initiatives that your site is actively working against, which ultimately increases your customer acquisition cost. 

A good page experience is not going to override having great content on the site, but it does provide a competitive advantage. Page experience, as indicated by Core Web Vitals, is going to become relevant when there are multiple possibilities for a single result. 

You don’t have to speculate about the business implications for meeting or falling short of Core Web Vital thresholds: Google points to the evidence. The search engine found that for e-commerce sites that meet all three Core Web Vital metrics, consumers were 24% less likely to abandon the page. Furthermore, if page-load time specifically increased from just one second to three seconds, “the probability that a user would bounce rises by 32%.”

Sites have increasingly more visual media, requiring optimization to reduce LCP 

The saying goes, “There’s only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.” With this mindset, let’s focus on the LCP metric and its importance because of the visual economy brands find themselves in today. 

HTTP Archive has noted an 85% rise in online page weight over the last few years, finding that for websites in the 90th percentile, three-fourths of that page weight is made up of photos, graphics and video. Visual media is a compelling storyteller, but not if its impact is a deterrent to a great user experience. Media optimization will have a direct impact on load time, and therefore LCP. Remember the recommendation of ≤ 2.5 seconds? Currently 47% of websites have an LCP score of greater than 2.5 seconds. That’s problematic. 

Because it’s important, by LCP metric standards, for rich media to load as fast as possible, businesses need to embrace optimization capabilities. When images are optimized, they have to be addressed in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on the user experience. In essence, you have to find a balance between file size of an image and its visual fidelity. 

Consider the following in regard to media optimization to reduce LCP: 

  • Compress assets so they take up less bandwidth but still display in high quality. As well, converting images into newer formats (AVIF, JPEG 2000, JPEG XL, WebP) can help to lower LCP.
  • Infuse automation into your image workflow, ensuring that the sweet spot between file size and quality is found. Automation will free up creative teams from time-intensive transformations as well. When they’re not consumed with cropping, resizing, format optimization, quality control and other manual tasks, they can innovate and create next-level user experiences across a company’s website. 
  • Google also recommends delivering assets via a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A multi-CDN approach is considered even more reliable and scalable. Furthermore, delivering the largest content elements from the cache rather than the original asset location will also have a significant impact on LCP. 

Finally, on the topic of media optimization and lowering an LCP score, having a real-time view of insights via a dashboard will enable a team to quickly assess how media is performing, and where it might inadvertently be hurting web performance.

Take action, and then expect more SEO-impacting recommendations to come

As web influencer Neil Patel says, “Search engines are built to serve people…as our behavior changes, technology evolves to keep up with our wants and needs. So, search engines have to change too.” 

While the metaphorical switch will soon be flipped on Google’s side for Core Web Vitals to play a role in SEO, how immediate that impact will be observable is still somewhat unknown. Google will be fine-tuning the metrics more frequently as it collects user data related to Core Web Vitals, and has even hinted at security, privacy and accessibility being taken into consideration for search rankings down the road. And these three Core Web Vitals are not the only Lighthouse metrics to keep in mind — other metrics like Time to First Byte and First Contentful Paint can be used to help diagnose trouble you’re having with core metric scores. For example, Total Blocking Time and Time to Interactive values can be other signals to give you more granular control for improving FID. 

If you can build and cultivate your site or app to meet or exceed the Core Web Vital thresholds, you’ll be in a very good place to be found by consumers and delight them as they engage. Find where you can improve, optimize accordingly, and embrace a mindset of learning and iterating as Core Web Vitals become more influential over time.

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Be a digital marketing winner with these 3 powerful video storytelling strategies /be-a-digital-marketing-winner-with-these-3-powerful-video-storytelling-strategies-344174 Mon, 30 Nov 2020 12:30:00 +0000 /?p=344174 Video storytelling should be an integral part of any online marketing strategy. By following these three fundamentals, brands can build the foundation for a strong video campaign.

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In an increasingly digital world, video is becoming the new norm for visual storytelling. It’s no surprise, given that video is a highly visual and effective medium for communicating with a brand’s audience.

Going beyond static images, videos use sound and movement to create a compelling message, making it an integral part of any brand’s online marketing strategy. According to Databox, almost 60% of marketers said video ads tend to drive more engagement than images.

To create online experiences that resonate with customers, every business should consider emerging video technologies that mirror the in-person experience, such as 3D and 360-degree videos that we highlighted in our last article. These immersive tools will build strong customer engagement that push the boundaries of the digital experience. 

However, the key to using these tools effectively is to first get back to the basics and understand all of the fundamental strategies that can improve a brand’s video visual storytelling – one that reaches the right audience and generates strong ROI.  

Segment audiences for a personalized connection

Creating great video content is wasted if the wrong audience is watching it. As with anything, personalized communication that targets the right consumer will lead to the strongest results. Accenture’s study reveals that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience. It’s clear that consumers desire their favorite brands to truly understand them and their preferences.

Since one-to-one video personalization is not always possible, marketers can simply create one-to-small group outreach that segments customer data into specific categories, whether it be age, gender, location or behavior. A new restaurant opening in a New York neighborhood can target consumers who live in that specific region. A retailer with a new outdoor clothing line can segment their audience to target customers who have bought hiking gear in the past or have searched for camping items. These grouped segments can also inform the video’s message and storyboard, creating meaningful interactions that consumers will resonate with. 

Use AI to boost efficiency

Managing video assets for each segment and campaign can take hours of manual work. Delivering video content in today’s competitive world demands an intelligent approach that provides speed and performance. This is where AI steps in to boost efficiency and make it easier than ever for organizations to create and distribute videos, all at scale. 

With AI, teams can dynamically format, crop and resize video content, live crop to ensure the main subject is always the focus of the clip, automatically transcribe audio to produce subtitles, and generate short previews for visitors to click through and view more. This technology can also streamline workflows through AI-based auto-tagging, structured metadata and advanced search for real-time collaboration and on-the-fly content changes. 

By taking the complexity out of managing videos with AI, companies can be more efficient with video creation and distribution and focus on delivering more engaging visual experiences that convert.

Measure video performance with analytics

To determine success, brands must measure their video campaigns to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Each data point will help inform the on-going creative and marketing strategy, ultimately improving video ROI. To start, marketers can evaluate the following key metrics:

  1. Who viewed the video?
  2. How does page placement impact play?
  3. How is performance impacted with auto-play?
  4. What cookies are associated with the viewer?
  5. Was there a call-to-action?
  6. Which part of the video was replayed or skipped?
  7. Was there a video abandonment event?
  8. When did the abandonment event take place?

Based on the results, brands can easily pivot their video content and distribution strategy. Over time, these metrics should be updated and refined as marketers gain a better experience and understanding of the different components of video storytelling. With measurable goals, brands can constantly track what is happening to the video content and continuously improve and optimize those metrics with a sound strategy. 

Brands can win with personalized, high-performance videos

The power of video visual storytelling cannot be underestimated. As we’ve seen from the pandemic, consumers have quickly adapted to all things video, making that medium even more central to a brand’s online marketing strategy in the coming years. Now more than ever, brands must understand where their audience is and create immersive and engaging videos that resonate. 

Implementing these three main pillars creates a strong foundation for delivering the great video storytelling that consumers crave. Once these are established, marketers can move towards new video trends that will take their video content to the next level. In the end, the winners are those brands that deliver more personalized, high-performance videos to customers across the buyer journey.

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4 ways to make your e-commerce experience engaging and bright /4-ways-to-make-your-e-commerce-experience-engaging-and-bright-342850 Tue, 27 Oct 2020 11:30:00 +0000 /?p=342850 The stakes for retailers are higher than ever this holiday season. Get ahead of competitors by offering a rich visual experience.

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“There’s no place like home for the holidays,” rings truer than ever this year. Due to the pandemic, consumers are avoiding large crowds in-store and instead, opting to shop online to complete their holiday shopping. From the comfort of their own homes, shoppers can safely browse, purchase and deliver gifts for their loved ones.

In fact, Deloitte predicts that holiday e-commerce sales will surge by 25% to 35% this season, amounting to between $182 billion and $196 billion in sales. Brands with an e-commerce presence have a big opportunity to engage with the rising number of online consumers and take a piece of the pie. To grab market share in an uber-competitive environment, they must invest in the right digital tools to create an engaging online customer experience.

Here are a few simple ways brands can enhance their e-commerce sites to engage with customers this holiday season and beyond.

Rockin’ around the product views

With consumers avoiding stores this holiday season, it’ll become more important than ever for retailers to provide an accurate and detailed account of the products online. Since shoppers aren’t able to touch, feel, taste or smell the products, it’s imperative that what’s displayed on the website gives them an in-person sense of what they can expect when they receive their order. To do this, brands can take advantage of two main product view tools.

Spinning product views

In a physical store, shoppers can pick up an item and look at every angle of a product. Retailers can replicate this experience by adding smooth spinning 360-degree product views, allowing viewers to turn the item with their fingers or mouse. This can be done through static spin set imagery or interactive 360-degree videos. (Here’s how.) Because they’re able to virtually turn over each item on-screen, shoppers can be confident of what they’re purchasing, decreasing return rates and increasing customer satisfaction. 

Zooming capabilities

Another way to replicate the brick-and-mortar experience is by offering detailed zooming capabilities that allow customers to get a close-up look at every part of the product. For example, someone shopping for a luxury handbag can zoom in on the clasps, zipper, material and more. A full-size, high-res version of the product image will be key for this. By having a clear picture of all the minute details, detailed zooming can boost the effectiveness of the website and encourage customers to “add to cart.” 

Shoppable and micro-videos are coming to town

We’ve said it time and time again; video is a powerful and persuasive platform that is easily one of the most effective ways to communicate with consumers. Videos simply capture a message in ways that images can’t achieve, going beyond a still image to a fully captivating story that incorporates features like sound and movement. This holiday season, brands can take video one step further with shoppable videos and micro-videos.

Shoppable videos

Shoppable videos list products alongside the video in an expandable product bar, enabling visitors to interact with the products and find out more details. This tool adds a more captivating user experience by linking visitors to the relevant pages to make a purchase and adding clickable hotspots that highlight the product’s exact location. Instead of only showing the links when the video stops playing, the links appear throughout the entire video, which brings products to life through interactivity, boosting click-through rates and elevating brand awareness.

Micro-videos

Consumers have short attention spans, and brands must cut through the noise to get to them. That’s why micro-video content, short five- to 20-second videos, can play a significant role in attracting viewers and swaying an audience. For the video to be responsive, the video should fill the width of the screen while maintaining its original ratio. If done correctly, this short format can create a sweet but mighty opportunity to boost engagement and conversions in just seconds.

‘Tis the season for microbrowsers

Thinking outside of the actual e-commerce website, there’s also an opportunity to unlock the power of “dark social,” or web traffic generated when people share links through private channels. For example, in the spirit of gift-giving, people are sending their wish lists to family and friends, hoping that what they ask for will appear under the tree. Consumers are likely using private communications apps called microbrowsers, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack and WhatsApp, to send these product links to loved ones.

When designing their e-commerce sites, brands must be certain that when a link unfurls into a thumbnail preview, an optimal image or video is displayed. Cloudinary’s 2020 State of Visual Media report found that link previews provide huge engagement opportunities, yet many brands often overlook how their site design might be impacting the generated preview. If brands don’t pay attention to this important prospect, they risk losing valuable peer-to-peer recommendations that convert into sales and reads.

Good tidings for brands who bring visual online experiences

It’s been an unusual year for brands, and it’s hard to predict what comes next. However, one thing we know for sure is that those who create a compelling and immersive e-commerce experience with these tips will certainly win over customers this holiday season.

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Making the most of small-screen content for big engagement impact /making-the-most-of-small-screen-content-for-big-engagement-impact-341076 Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:30:00 +0000 /?p=341076 They say, “it’s the little things in life.” In the context of content, little things like microbrowser optimization pay off in huge ways.

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There are a number of common phrases that speak to the power of “small” things. “Good things come in small packages” or “small but mighty” are just a couple that come to mind. But small content – in length, but especially in size on a handheld screen – holds enormous significance for brand storytelling and consumer engagement.

Marketers and their creative counterparts are committed to writing attention-grabbing copy, developing video content to stop a social-media user mid-scroll, and designing visuals that make websites an engaging place to spend time on screen. And the idea of content optimization is something marketers intrinsically “get.” Writing SEO-friendly copy, link building to optimize a campaign, creating different versions and sizes of content for “web vs. mobile” – these are all things a marketer thinks through during the stages of content creation and distribution.

But there are a few not-so-small dynamics that marketers must pay attention to in order to holistically optimize their digital content. The first is the opportunity to capitalize on “micro” moments of engagement with 10-20 second video clips. The second is a two-part trend, really: the value of microbrowser content and the resulting “dark social” space, or the social shares that contain no referral information about the source, that is often forgotten in campaign planning.

Micro-video clips engage users short on time and attention

As Forrester’s Dr. James McQuivey famously claimed more than a decade ago, one minute of video is the equivalent of 1.8 million words. Whether or not you agree with the math he used to arrive at that particular number, there’s no debating just how efficient a short video can be when it comes to educating an audience. In cutting a video down to the most important or compelling 10 to 20 seconds of content, marketers can quickly grab attention and drive viewers to take the desired action, whether it be an email capture, social media follow, a share, or a sale.  

These micro-videos are so effective because they have a unique ability to delight and entertain in a condensed time frame. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than with game highlights. Sports fans thrive on video content, wanting to relive important moments again and again, or catch up on the action they missed on demand.

As a digital destination for sports fans, Bleacher Report even delivers those micro-video highlights while games are still in progress. In order to rapidly generate and publish the clips, Bleacher Report acquired the technology needed to automatically transcode videos into a streamable format, adjusting their quality and resolution and delivering them through a fast, reliable content delivery network.

By focusing on streamlining the creation of these micro-video moments, Bleacher Report saw an immediate (and impressive) increase in video views of 350%, and each month has seen an increase in total video views by 25%.

How to deliver the micro-video moments consumers crave

Micro-videos convert, but they’re also difficult to execute across all available sales and engagement channels. Depending on the platform, there’s a headline or accompanying description to write. The video content needs to adjust for both portrait and landscape, responsively expanding to fill the width of the screen while maintaining the right aspect ratio.

The alternative is static sizing, which can easily break page layouts, distort the image, or display black bars on either side of the video clip, limiting the “wow” factor of great content. Remember, you just have a few seconds to get the visual experience right, or someone may scroll past or bounce off a webpage. 

With micro-video, small adjustments make a big impact. There are two ways to ensure micro-video experiences are the marketing “gold” they hold the potential to be:

  1. Cropping – With responsive video, be sure that as content adjusts to fill the screen of a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone, that the most important elements remain in view. Content-aware AI and machine learning technology can be leveraged to do this dynamically, creating multiple variants of every video in different aspect ratios so that it’s never a laborious editing process for marketing teams.
  2. Subtitles ­– While most YouTube videos are played with the sound on, 85% of video content watched on Facebook is viewed without sound. For this reason (and generally as a best practice for web accessibility and ADA compliance), create subtitles to go along with your micro-video content.

Optimizing for the “small but mighty” microbrowser

Now taking a wider-angle view of content, not just video, it’s important to understand the growing trend of peer referrals shared via microbrowsers. If the term is unfamiliar to you, think of a URL shared via text message, or links sent back-and-forth on platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack or WhatsApp. The Cloudinary State of Visual Media 2020 Report found that 62% of people in the U.S. share links via iMessage, generating microbrowser previews that marketers often don’t account for. iMessage, for example, is designed to surface data to deliver an optimal microbrowser view, but not all microbrowsers do the same.

You’ve likely noticed when a link on one of these microbrowsers doesn’t generate any sort of helpful context, lacking a relevant thumbnail preview – whether image or video – that is auto-generated from the URL. While tiny in size, these microbrowser previews pack a powerful punch when it comes to user engagement. But the sad truth is, many companies and brands fail to consider how their website and content design might be impacting the preview that’s generated. With early-on alignment with front-end developers, marketers can be sure they’ve properly accounted for compelling imagery, video or text information that will load in a microbrowser.

Optimizing microbrowser previews increases the likelihood that peer-to-peer recommendations convert to the desired outcome. Not planning for microbrowser activity ahead of time puts an unfortunate limit on the impact of an otherwise compelling marketing effort. For this reason, marketing and dev teams should be working together to be sure the visual experience is consistent across all chat and messaging apps.  

A cheat sheet for fixing microbrowser issues and getting macro ROI  

Cloudinary’s State of Visual Media report found that more than one-third (36%) of links shared within microbrowsers don’t have their campaign IDs intact. If the link is copied and pasted by a user from a campaign, that original campaign is credited with the referral. Not understanding the big picture is a huge missed opportunity – the “dark social” space that hides meaningful campaign insights.

Understanding indirect microbrowser traffic and its relationship to social media can help correlate where conversions are really coming from, and whether you ought to boost or reduce spend accordingly to see a better ROI. Hiding out of sight, or at least with the wrong attribution, a percentage of direct traffic flows from microbrowsers to your website and the reporting analytics lead you to think that lead is coming through Facebook. In reality, that site visit is a result of a peer referral and knowing that precisely will help marketing teams plan better.

Link “unfurling” is another technical aspect of microbrowser referrals. Unfurled links are the previews of web pages inside of the private message, and they create, as previously discussed, a brand’s first impression. The person who shared the link with a friend or family member has already qualified the lead, so marketers must not let that opportunity fall flat because of a missing, misleading or unengaging preview.

Marketers should stay in communication with developers to be sure content is created and optimized to unfurl properly. A couple of best practices include: 

  • Selecting a specific (and compelling) unfurl image or video. Rather than hoping a default photo or video will be automatically pulled from the page, be intentional in determining the best one to compel a recipient to click through to view. This is ideally not the hero image on a webpage, but rather an image or video that is most representative of the “why” behind the click. If someone sends a link to view a handbag or new electronic gadget, ensure that the product is prominent, rather than a company logo or lifestyle photo where the product is too small to really see.
  • Using short video ‘nanostories’ or animated GIFs. There are a few microbrowsers that don’t currently display video in an unfurled preview, so using other motion graphics or visuals can create the same look and feel, if planned ahead. 
  • Adjusting visuals for better engagement. If the media file itself is given a unique name, a developer can provide a marketer with analytics that show how frequently an unfurl image or video has been fetched. If you’re leading with that close-up shot of the handbag being worn, what is the click-through rate of interested shoppers? Does swapping it with something more seasonal, or a different angle, improve engagement? Pay attention to the story the data tells, and your microbrowser content will lead more people to your site.

Many of us have been told in life, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” But in marketing, it really pays off when you do. In an increasingly digital world, with more time spent on screens and more competition for those eyeballs, paying attention to the “small” details of micro-video and microbrowsers is an opportunity that can’t be overlooked.

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Upleveling your digital asset management strategy for the modern workforce /upleveling-your-digital-asset-management-strategy-for-the-modern-workforce-337673 Thu, 16 Jul 2020 11:30:00 +0000 /?p=337673 The visual elements created and utilized across your organization deserve a DAM solution as innovative as you are.

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Visual content offers a powerful way to connect with and engage consumers. It also helps companies maintain a competitive advantage where such an edge matters. But when it comes to creating, managing, and publishing the volumes of content required to win the engagement game today, it can be a challenge just to keep up. Those in charge of assets must think through every possible variation ahead of time and create a huge number of variants of each asset, for every channel and screen size on which it might be displayed. 

In most organizations, it’s also hard to make sure every team has access to these assets when they need them, and that they know how to optimize them for each channel they use them on. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread remote work and distributed teams – not to mention more fluid work schedules – it is even more challenging to establish and maintain efficient and productive workflows.

Expecting creatives and developers to address these needs and challenges alone zaps resources and misallocates the skillsets of your most talented people. Your teams should be brainstorming new content ideas, dreaming up unique visual experiences, and strategizing on campaign elements – not worrying about file sizes and cropping ratios. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

A well-designed DAM (Digital Asset Management) solution handles this at-scale content demand with ease. Advanced DAMs have moved beyond once-rudimentary databases for ingesting, storing, and accessing assets. Today, they automatically manage huge chunks of the optimization and delivery process for you. They generate variants through intelligent cropping and resizing, and make it incredibly simple to produce new assets from existing ones. Holistically, modern DAMs improve workflows across the enterprise. Here’s how. 

AI-driven organization and analytics are a powerful combination for campaign planning

Three core capabilities of dynamic DAMs include the ability to automatically transform and optimize assets, preview the variations easily, and finally, publish the assets in an optimal format. Before this can happen, though, organizations need to get their arms around the assets already in their arsenal, which requires informed planning assisted by AI. 

For brands with massive libraries of imagery and videos, AI automatically identifies content to facilitate the rapid deployment of metadata, adding the appropriate tags or search terms to make content instantly searchable. This is especially useful for media libraries that serve retail, tourism and hospitality. For example, the value of AI can really be appreciated when you think of the number of apparel pieces – and how many product photos each of them require – retailers need to prepare and display each fashion season.

In most scenarios, it’s best to not reinvent the content wheel if you don’t have to. In many cases, teams will request a new custom image when an existing asset already works for the experience they want to deliver, they just don’t know it’s available. In a modern DAM with AI-fueled tagging and analytics, content-creating teams can know with certainty what they already have. If an asset is rarely used, the analytics can speak to why that is, enabling teams to enhance the asset or create a different version. User-engagement metrics help content creators gain valuable insights in order to repurpose or optimize existing content. 

Critical image and video transformation is expedited with AI  

In addition to keeping the whole organization organized and helping them source the assets they need, AI shoulders the burden of editing and optimization. It can automatically pinpoint the primary foreground subjects in a photo, manipulating the background to eliminate distracting content. Because the asset will be displayed on various devices and screen sizes, AI auto-crops images each required aspect ratio. Everything takes place within the DAM, so there is no need to download assets, edit in external tools, and reupload new versions. 

As much as content is king, video in many ways reigns supreme. Back to the retail example: a photo of a handbag quickly registers in a consumers’ mind when they first see it, helping them to notice close-up details of the material or stitching, or how many interior pockets the bag has. But a 10-second video clip on that product page, showing a woman packing the purse with ease, and suddenly the true form and function of the handbag resonates with the shopper. 

That’s why dynamic video transformation is key when selecting a DAM. By leveraging AI, dynamic DAMs create short previews of a video, focusing only on the most important and compelling section. Videos can be streamed on the DAM during their encoding phase. Uploaded videos can be automatically transcoded and optimized for any web browser and mobile device, and videos, just like images, can be resized and cropped intelligently. 

How to deploy a DAM, considering emerging technology and distributed workforces 

With sights set on implementing a truly modern DAM, it’s important to know the boxes to check when evaluating options. Having a single, cloud-based platform is a top priority, which has been made more obvious in the times of COVID-19 with more physically distributed teams and remote collaboration. A SaaS-based DAM solution breaks down logistical barriers to accessing the platform, wherever a team member might be working from, so that work can continue without interruption. Think of a DAM as the productivity bridge, closing the functional gap between asset management and content delivery. 

What other advanced capabilities are needed for creating modern asset workflows, supported by DAMs? Over the past several years, workflows have certainly evolved. Simply ingesting assets, storing them in some organized fashion, and allowing for access and searchability are bare-bones DAM requirements at this point. Today, look for a DAM that is by nature: 

  • Mobile-first, automatically adapting assets to display attractively on any device or screen size – including mobile – which requires intelligent cropping, resizing, and adjustments made on the fly. 
  • Supportive of rich media, able to transform next-generation image formats, videos, 3D models, animated GIFs, and 360-degree images. Tools in these cutting-edge DAMs automatically transcode, crop, and resize all rich media to create multiple versions for different uses. 
  • Equipped for last-mile asset delivery, delivering creative assets to end-users at high quality and quick load times. DAMs generate URLs for assets, which can be used directly in websites and mobile apps to ultimately deliver content through a fast Content Delivery Network (CDN). 

Setting up DAM as a critical core platform with tech-stack integration

Importantly, the boundaries of DAM are extensible, and the organization-wide possibilities aren’t limited by the list of platform features. That’s because DAM capabilities are extended through integrations with many other valuable enterprise systems your teams rely on daily. Just make sure that your DAM system has built-in connectors for all the systems that work with creative assets: CMS, eCommerce platforms, Product Information Management (PIM) systems, CRM systems, BPM and ERP tools, social media, and marketing tools. Ensuring this on the front end, prior to sealing the deal, will help to future-proof your team’s content expertise and the resulting gains in efficiency. 

To make these integrations a reality, the DAM should include a host of APIs, SDKs, and Widgets that make other systems easy to integrate. If there’s cohesion across your tech stack, you can quickly eliminate barriers to asset delivery. Especially important? You’ll ensure a single source of truth for every asset across every team and asset delivery. This single source of truth goes a long way in maintaining brand standards, enforcing usage or copyright compliance, and tracking version history. 

Prioritizing company culture and buy-in as you implement 

A DAM solution will bring new levels of efficiency to an organization and solve for many issues teams constantly facet. However, if you don’t involve your people in the planning for and implementation of your DAM, you may be fighting a battle of the wills so that the DAM can play the best supporting role possible. 

One way to ensure a DAM platform boosts the work already being done well is to identify the critical business workflows that relate to content – this goes beyond just the marketing team or graphic designers, to gain perspective from developers and IT stakeholders whose voices matter in the conversation. Interview team members who frequently perform those tasks so that you can better understand their needs, and then, together, identify clear opportunities for automation. When these opportunities are agreed upon, ready adoption of new asset workflows improves. Automated workflows will improve productivity and increase the usage of visual assets, but it’s also reliant on teams communicating to ensure the wheels keep turning. 

DAM is a truly foundational platform for executing campaigns across every business group in a modern economy and a critical part of the martech stack for organizations today and moving forward.  

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Delivering optimized media-rich content for mobile /delivering-optimized-media-rich-content-for-mobile-294850 Wed, 28 Mar 2018 11:30:57 +0000 /?p=294850 We all know the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” meaning that a complex idea can be conveyed in just one image. The phrase was made popular nearly 100 years ago in an article about the power of images in advertisements, and the sentiment rings just as true in today’s always-on digital age. […]

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We all know the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” meaning that a complex idea can be conveyed in just one image. The phrase was made popular nearly 100 years ago in an article about the power of images in advertisements, and the sentiment rings just as true in today’s always-on digital age. It’s been said that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and research supports that images directly impact mood and invoke a variety of emotions.

This makes visual media, both images and video, a powerful tool full of marketing potential. According to YouAppi’s CMO Mobile Marketing Guide, 85 percent of digital marketers plan to boost their mobile marketing budget for videos in 2018 by 10 percent over 2017 levels. That’s to meet a marked surge of interest in videos, which are a superb medium for personalization and connections.

Source: YouAppi’s 2018 CMO Mobile Marketing Guide

During an interview in 2017, Pinterest CEO Ben Silberman said, “A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords.” We aren’t quite there yet, but the visual web has changed the game. All signs point to continued growth in the use of media-rich content to engage digital consumers.

Mobile is king

Mobile reigns supreme in today’s digital world. More than half of the time we spend each day with digital media is done with our mobile devices, and 80 percent of all shoppers make purchases via smartphones, logging billions of transactions and revenue every month.

By 2019, mobile advertising is forecasted to represent 72 percent of all US online ads. Notably, smartphone owners often search while on mobile devices and are five times more likely to leave a mobile-unfriendly site. If you aren’t providing the best mobile experience possible, you are likely losing out to your competitors that are.

If media-rich content provides a powerful vector of communication with your target consumers, and you need to reach them on their platform of choice — their mobile device — the path forward is clear. You need to provide a media-rich, engaging experience, delivered seamlessly to their mobile device. Great! Let’s all do that…

Easier said than done

Unfortunately, this can be more challenging than many think. Over the past three years, as a result of the ubiquity and large file size of non-text content, the average weight of a webpage has increased by nearly 85 percent, leading to slower load times. Research has shown that even a three-second loading time causes a 53 percent bounce rate.

Factor in the shift to Mobile-First Indexing by Google, and that page load speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches, optimizing your mobile web content is critical to your SEO and user experience. Then, layer on top of that the thousands of different mobile devices, various network providers, browser types and screen sizes, and creating a robust experience for customers requires dedicated collaboration, cooperation and coordination among knowledgeable marketing and development professionals.

Overcoming the challenges

Here are the three top challenges marketers will need to overcome to create an optimized media-rich experience for mobile devices and thereby improve user engagement.

  1. File size: Videos and images take up far more file space than text, and compressing file sizes can speed up page load times. Establishing a strategy for optimizing videos and images requires expert knowledge accompanied by a detailed analysis of many factors, including data types, quality settings and resolution. Formats and delivery methods are also key considerations.
  2. Design: The design must be dynamic and provide an adjustment of the layout. The more media-rich content you introduce into the layout, the more complicated it becomes to offer a fluid responsive design. Besides screen size, you must also accommodate device viewports, CPU types, RAM and network limitations.
  3. Asset management: Who creates and manages all those different videos and images? Often, multiple versions of the same asset are in simultaneous use. What happens when you need to update those assets or add new images? Is marketing or design or engineering creating the responsive design? There could be a lot of management overhead.

Addressing technical challenges

You must achieve a balance between the need for speed to market and the need and desire for a media-rich visual experience that is also optimized for mobile delivery. Here are a few tips.

  1. Compression: Image compression can significantly reduce the file size. You can also think about tradeoffs between the quality of an image and image size. Are you able to visually notice a reduction in the resolution of an image? Compressing files is a good start to achieving faster load times.

  1. Image format: Be sure to apply the best image and video formats for the various devices and browsers. When should you use JPEG vs. PNG vs. JPEG-XR vs. SVG?

  1. Give a DAM: Adopt a digital asset management (DAM) solution that can help you optimize the workflows and processes needed to manage a new influx of rich digital content so you can:
  • Categorize and organize the content files; add, edit and store their metadata; and synchronize with the local files and folders.
  • Collaborate, control and streamline the workflow; enable notifications; and vigilantly maintain the versions to ensure up-to-date downloads.
  • Search the media library, and then sort the results according to the predefined criteria.
  • Share and publish the content according to launch schedules and read-write access criteria, subsequently archiving the automatically generated code into the content management system (CMS).
  • Collate detailed performance and usage analytics; monitor and correct errors; and generate comprehensive reports with emphasis on the key metrics.

Bridging the gap between marketing and development

Delivering an optimized, media-rich experience to mobile customers has become a critical intersection of marketing and engineering. Marketing’s need to provide visually rich, optimized content that will engage users and benefit SEO is colliding with technical considerations that must be addressed through engineering workflows. A close collaboration between the two will be required to overcome technical challenges and successfully provide customers with an engaging and profitable experience.

To learn more about how to address these challenges in your organization, check out the on-demand webinar, Optimizing for Page Load Speed: Challenges and Strategies to Improve SEO, User Engagement and Conversion Rates

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