A big part of enhancing the customer experience in today’s online-first marketplace starts by focusing on what can make the visual content experience better; Doron Sherman, VP of Evangelism at Cloudinary highlights a few best practices:
Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Doron, tell us more about your role at Cloudinary…
Thank you! As the VP of Developer Relations at Cloudinary, I lead a team of developer advocates and developer experience engineers. The developer relations team, as a whole, is first and foremost tasked with representing the voice of the developer inside Cloudinary (advocacy) as well as building educational tools and related community resources for delighting developers (experience). Our specific focus is on developers who seek solutions to problems involving media or want to learn about it, and introduce them to Cloudinary’s media technology through best practices across a variety of use cases and technology stacks. .
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How have you seen trends evolve in the visual media marketplace? What are some top strategies that are working well for B2B marketers today, in your view?
As the web turns visual with each new generation, images and video are increasingly dominant forms of communication. Just look at how today’s young people not only consume, but create TikTok videos. And nothing has accelerated the already fast growth of visual media than the current global health crisis, which has required so many people to live more of their lives online. We strongly advocate that B2B marketers raise what we call their “visual literacy”. Many B2B marketers – especially those born in the last century – are pretty word-literate in their communications. They know how to write and edit compelling copy. Most are adept at optimising written content for SEO and measuring its effectiveness. Visual media is great at communicating emotions and complex messages in a relatively small package, but it comes with unique challenges. When it comes to UX, the devil really is in the detail. For instance, how do you optimize images and video, to appear consistently across different browsers, devices, and viewing window formats? How do you ensure that when a user flips their phone to landscape, the subject of the video they’re watching isn’t cropped incorrectly? How do you optimise visual content for SEO? These are all the types of visual literacy issues we work with our customers to solve.
As use of interactive channels like videos / webinars becomes more prominent, how do you feel marketers can optimize their end-user streaming / viewing experience?
As the cliche goes, “I’m glad you asked that question!” We are doing a lot of work in this area and just announced a partnership with a start-up called Visionular to extend our support for the ‘next gen’ video codec called AV1 and its associated image format AVIF. Unlike its predecessors HEVC and H.264, AV1 was conceived in 2017 for the modern web. Not only is it royalty-free, AV1 offers exceptional visual quality, but at a much lower bitrate. So for those brands that stream lots of video content, AV1 has the potential to save them big on bandwidth, costs, and also their carbon footprints while offering high speed and quality. I strongly encourage marketers to talk to their web teams about moving to AV1, AVIF and other new image and video codecs.
Seeing how complex today’s online media mix and marketing model can be, what are some top media optimization strategies that come to mind to help marketers drive digital journeys and experiences?
Optimizing media for different devices, browsers, and social media channels is highly detailed and repetitive work that’s essential, time-consuming, and quite tedious for developers. In other words, a perfect job for AI automation. There are free and subscription-based tools available that use AI to optimise images and video in the four main stages of the media asset lifecycle: creation, editing, delivery, and enhancement. Our customers use AI tools to do things like automatically check the quality of user generated content; automatically crop images correctly, so that the most important content is prominently displayed; automatically generate images tag for SEO; and enhance large volumes of content with filters, effects, overlays and other enhancements.
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Can you share a few thoughts on some of the most creative and leading tech brands have used visual media to enhance their prospects online user experience?
One of the hottest consumer tech products for culinary enthusiasts today is the Thermomix TM6; essentially an IoT kitchen appliance by German manufacturer Vorwerk that performs 20 different tasks, including chopping, blending, weighing, grinding and kneading. Through a visual interface on the device, the TM6 walks users through more than 60,000 recipes, step by step. One thing the TM6 relies on our software for is to automatically optimise video for users in 60 different countries, delivering it the best resolution, bit rate, quality, and with adaptive streaming for uninterrupted buffering regardless of device or bandwidth. This ensures that users, wherever they are located, get a consistent, high-quality experience in line with the TM6’s brand promise.
A few thoughts on the future of martech and marketing and how newer technologies and channels will lead to further changes in core marketing roles and concepts?
If this last year has taught us anything it’s that marketing and martech need to be flexible, scaleable, and responsive to be able to respond fast changes in consumer demand and behaviour. That’s why we’ve always embraced technologies like cloud, ‘headless’ content management systems, and AI, which all support these properties. During the pandemic, we of course saw a huge shift to e-commerce, but what will come next? There are signs that some consumers will maintain a higher than pre-pandemic level of home consumption, but others want to get out and support their local shops, restaurants, and bars. More consumers are concerned about the environment and are looking to buy items locally, with low mileage and sustainable credentials.
Some top martech tools you feel marketers today need to integrate into their overall martech stack to enhance the visual experience?
As related to media experience, my advice is to refrain from introducing point solutions and instead take a more holistic approach to delivering great visual UX to consumers. The key functional deliverables of great visual UX include personalization, performance and accessibility. What’s more, to deliver such visual UX, modern interfaces entail mixed media assets, hence calling for a media experience platform that can handle the media asset management in the backend, the advanced processing and the optimized delivery of processed assets. In short, go for a flexible platform capable of handling the end-to-end media processing pipeline rather than point products & tools.
Last thoughts and takeaways for marketing and sales leaders to keep in mind through 2021?
One thing I’m confident about is that visual imagery will play an ever growing role and how brands communicate information about their values, products, and services. Marketing people will need to continue to grow what we call ‘visual literacy’ in order to adapt.
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Cloudinary’s mission is to empower companies to deliver visual experiences that inspire and connect by unleashing the full potential of their media. With more than 50 billion assets under management and nearly 8,000 customers worldwide, Cloudinary is the industry standard for developers, creators and marketers looking to upload, store, transform, manage, and deliver images and videos online. As a result, leading brands like Atlassian, Bleacher Report, Bombas, Grubhub, Hinge, NBC, Mediavine, Peloton, Petco and Under Armour are seeing significant business value in using Cloudinary, including faster time to market, higher user satisfaction and increased engagement and conversions.
Doron has been connecting business & technology dots in startups that created multi-billion dollar markets for 3 decades as executive, founder, angel investor & adviser. At Cloudinary, Doron is responsible for developer relations and bridging the gap between developers and marketing.