pink tennis ball stuck in a cyclone fence
PHOTO: Ben Hershey

When your business depends on grabbing attention, image really is everything. You’ve spent a lot of effort to have great images and video, so you’re all set, right? Yes — unless you’ve been neglecting your delivery strategy. 

Do your experiences pop on the page, or do they linger in page load doldrums? Are they crisp, responsive and engaging on every device from iPhone to PlayStation?

To be a successful brand in today’s content heavy world, it’s not enough to be present: You must offer unique, engaging, high-quality experiences. In fact, recent studies show that consumers spend 8.8 hours a day on average engaging with digital content. However, 35 percent of consumers say slow page loads frustrate them and 50 percent would stop viewing a video altogether if loading takes too long or resolution is poor.

It’s hard to track how rapidly consumers expectations keep spiraling upwards, and how your competitors are meeting those expectations. A well-defined rich media strategy is fundamental to your brand success. If your rich media strategy hasn’t been refreshed in the last six to 12 months, it is likely past its use-by date.

Related Article: Avoid Brand Disasters With a Visual Content Strategy

What Defines a Rich Media Strategy?

A properly planned and executed rich media strategy not only ensures best-in-class experiences for your customers, but delivers your brand’s visual aesthetic.

Your strategy provides clear guidelines on how to optimize for quality and delivery — how to marry image contrast, sharpness and color trueness. Where do you choose image size to optimize download speed, and what level of image compression to optimize quality? Where is the middle ground that delivers good images at good speed?

The further challenge for your strategy is future-proofing. The latest web design trends are larger images and richer experiences, with video fast becoming a hard requirement. How will these trends affect file size and ultimately experience load times?

As a marketer you have a number of levers to help define (and refine) experiences. While you likely won’t be making these changes yourself, you need to be in the know so you can develop your strategy as a team.

close-up headshot of a woman with glasses on
Image Fidelity: Choosing and applying the right level of sharpening is a critical part of image delivery.PHOTO: Maria Badasian

Image levers to consider include:

  • Contrast.
  • Sharpness.
  • Color Trueness.
  • File Size, Format, Compression.

Video levers to consider include:

  • Quality source video.
  • Maximum required dimension.
  • Format.
  • Codec.

Related Article: Why DAM Is the Heart of Your Martech Stack

Quality Starts With Speed

Quality, as consumers see it, starts with speed: if experiences load slowly, you’ve lost half your audience. Slow experiences are bad experiences, ultimately damaging customer loyalty, negatively impacting ROI and creating lasting negative feelings about your brand.

A well-considered strategy assures that your brand has the best chance of delivering fast loading and high-quality experiences regardless of the screen size or bandwidth. How do you reach the middle ground that delivers good quality video and imagery at good speed?

A rich media strategy answers these questions:

  • How can we optimize for the latest web design trends that include larger images and richer experiences?
  • How can I optimize specific (or all) of my pages with a focus on fast loading and low page weight sizes at scale?
  • How is quality defined and prioritized in my brand aesthetic?

contrast in three images
Contrast: Flat/muddy or overly saturated images are great for editorial work but aren’t ideal for product photography. (Left - low contrast, Middle – balanced contrast, Right – high contrast).

Related Article: Digital Experience Feels the Need for Internet Speed

Questions to Help Inform Your Rich Media Strategy

The purpose of a rich media strategy is to make each of these decisions easier and more consistent — automating where possible for scale. Here are some steps to consider when creating your strategy.

  • Set Priorities: Where is speed more important than visual richness, or vice-versa? This is where brand strategy intersects with customer experience goals and customer journey designs.
  • Engage Stakeholders: Those who contribute effort and share responsibility for outcomes include developers, creatives, marketing and branding.
  • Inventory the Experiences You Deliver
  • Document Brand Goals and Direction
  • Information to Gather:
    • Sizes, types, media formats.
    • Targeted platforms: Desktop, Mobile, In-Store Displays, Wearables, etc.
    • Identify experience content types (banners, auto-play video elements, etc.)
    • Experience load time policy.
    • Static vs. continually refreshed experiences.

Subpar experiences have lasting impact on a brand. Rich media elements are fundamental to enhance, nurture, build, and safeguard your brand; increase customer satisfaction; and help you stand out from competition. Even if you choose great images and videos, the impact falls flat if it’s not optimized for all delivery channels, and to meet the brand’s standard for quality. A rich media strategy is fundamental to success, and it should be refreshed for every campaign or major brand direction change.