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Wednesday
Apr112012

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Words?

By Elizabeth Ballard, Director

Image Credit: DooFi

An image can convey a lot of information in an instant. Visual elements in media coverage are increasingly important as sharing, re-purposing, and re-posting images becomes easier. Tracking and quantifying the value of brand visibility through images appearing in media coverage is an important part of evaluating how a product or brand stands up to its competitors.

A number of factors must be examined to understand and measure the impact of images and graphics appearing in media attention. Among the things to consider include: 

1) Is the image prominently displayed? Is it above the fold? On the landing page? How many clicks does it take to get to the image?

2) Can you see a logo? A partial logo?

3) How big is the image relative to the article? How big is it relative to other images appearing in that publication?

4) Is the image a joke? Is it sarcastic?  Is it an ad campaign turned meme?

5) Is there a caption?  How does it affect the meaning of the visual?

6) Is the visual negative?

7) Is your logo/product/brand displayed alone or is it grouped with competitors?

An automated media analysis tool probably could tell you if an image appeared, where it appeared, and maybe even if a logo is displayed. But measuring the value of that image will be lost on a machine, as most, if not all, automated media analysis tools are able to examine only the text of articles or the transcripts of broadcast pieces when assessing sentiment.

In contrast, human analysts are able to review the whole article or watch the actual broadcast piece, and can evaluate the significance and impact of the visual elements when assessing sentiment. The ability to take a deeper look at images, place them in the intended context, and assess their significance by using some of the criteria above is vital and requires a level of intelligence that machines do not have. This represents just one more reason that investing in human-based research is worthwhile.

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