Picture This!

What we see has a profound effect on what we do, how we feel, and who we are. Through experience and experimentation, we continually increase our understanding of the visual world and how we are influenced by it. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian demonstrated that 93% of communication is nonverbal. Past research at 3M Corporation concluded that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Further studies found that the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, we are genetically wired to respond differently to visuals than text. Therefore the ability of visual stimuli to communicate and influence is undeniable and inescapable.

If most of our decisions are based on relatively quick intuitional judgment and emotions, then how many decisions are influenced by visually appealing, easily digested images? The answer is by no means a secret to advertisers. But what are the opportunities for online publishers in visual content? What are the major trends in 2011 that will be driving the marketplace? How will newspapers and magazines take advantage of the new emerging business models around images to keep their business afloat or growing? Can images provide enough value and unique context to potential readers to make it possible for publishers to advertise against them?

There is clearly a universe of opportunities for monetizing high-quality and high-value topic-specific images. Brands are poised to spend billions of dollars on advertising in order to create images that tell us how to look, how to feel, how to think, and most importantly what to buy in order to look, feel, and think these ways. The fact that there already exists countless editorial images and photo galleries that publishers are sitting on should indicate that there is an un-tapped opportunity here. Consider for a moment that more than half of the visitors to The New York Daily News' website go to image galleries. More specifically, hundreds of billions of image views per month and growing are just waiting to be monetized. For many brands, images offer an opportunity to engage and communicate more effectively to their customers. For publishers, 30% of the real estate on web pages are already dedicated to images, and images create an opportunity to deliver even more compelling content in a not-so-new, yet still enticing format. And, for advertisers images are one of the most effective ways to reach a wider segment of their audience.

Sometimes, the most obvious answer to better advertising placements is right in front of you. Despite all of the data-driven, audience metric oriented discussions about display banners and how to improve their ability to influence intended consumers, images offer a fresh, new way to engage via display, through in-image placements contextually aligned with the image content.

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