Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
4 mins read

Why publishers should use AI to deliver a visual storytelling experience

A picture is worth arguably more than a thousand words in today’s publishing world. Imagery is an incredibly important factor for first impressions, brand recall, and engagement. Though two in five British people read physical books twice a week, they also spend a whopping average of two days per week online. In response, publishers are now tapping into visual content to engage with their audience and capture readers’ short attention spans.

However, in order to deliver captivating visual storytelling, media publishers must manage and publish potentially hundreds of visual content pieces per day. This number is continuing to grow as media and entertainment companies expand across multiple platforms. As well, Digiday found that 70% of publishers are making it a priority to personalize content they deliver to visitors, which means multiple versions of critical assets will be needed to reach different segments.

That being said, publishers can easily optimize their workflows by embracing automation to continue raising the bar on visual-first experiences — all without sacrificing valuable time and resources.

Publishers Race in Speed to Market

Delivering news and content at a rapid real-time pace is a tall order. Bleacher Report, for example, is a global digital destination for sports fans that must deliver short video highlights while games are still in progress. Speed to market is paramount as the platform works to transcode videos into a streamable format, ensuring smooth playback for different device requirements and internet connectivity.

Other media properties like Complex Networks, a global lifestyle brand and media company, have multiple websites and mobile apps that must all have high web performance and fast load times. These dynamics are critical in increasing user engagement rates. The processes involved with managing multiple content management systems (CMSs) and adapting to formats, sizes and restrictions unique to each website is very time-consuming and slows time to market. On top of that, high-quality images are necessary for whatever device screen and channel (website, paid, social, etc.) the user is accessing.

In an industry where the latest news and happenings are constantly moving, publishers must innovate to stay agile across every channel. Cloudinary’s 2021 State of Visual Media report suggests that most brands fully embrace the most established visual transformations and automations, but are still making their way toward adopting more advanced capabilities.

Today’s modern visual workflow will require publishers to take steps to expand their toolkits and find better and smarter ways to manage the huge daily volumes of new content.

Amit Erental, Business Lines, Senior Manager, Cloudinary

AI is Key to Routine Transformations

A critical step that publishers can start implementing today is tapping into AI and automation to make the workflow process easier and faster than ever before. Cloudinary’s data supports the observation that companies in media and entertainment may be using AI and automation the most compared to other industries. This is largely due to the exponential increase in the number of visual assets necessary to deliver content across multi-platforms, making it next to impossible for publishers to manage everything manually without some degree of automation.

With AI, publishers can save time and developer resources by automating or programming the most routine transformations, including dynamic resizing, automatic quality compression, automatic format selection, automatic responsive delivery, and intelligent cropping. Automation can also go beyond the basics with advanced AI-enabled visual transformations like auto-tagging, background removal and intelligent cropping to keep focus on the main subject of the visual. These capabilities will help publishers communicate effectively without sacrificing load times and bandwidth constraints that can be unintentional with the mismanagement of high-quality visuals.

The Benefits of Automating the Visual Storytelling Experience

Publishers should pursue automation capabilities for managing and pushing live their visual content for a number of reasons:

1.  Boost image load time — Publishers can boost image load time, and in turn improve site performance, by automatically creating fully optimized assets for each touchpoint. By automating media optimization for faster web performance, publishers can create high-quality experiences that increase followers.

2.  Streamline the editorial workflow — Most publishers have several departments and teams that work together to deliver media and entertainment campaigns. Automation simplifies this workflow by performing tedious tasks, like auto-tagging media assets or localizing the assets’ content. 

3.  Optimise images for any display window — High-resolution images can be optimized for any display window the customer views published content through, whether that’s a small mobile device or a large desktop monitor.

4.  Transform assets dynamically — It’s easy to apply transformations to images with automation. For example, if a publishing company wants to change the background color without tinkering manually to alter the image, they can easily do so at scale.

These benefits should be motivating factors for publishers to embrace automation, allowing them to accelerate the delivery of their rich visual content, and therefore the memorable reader experience.

Turn a New Page in the Age of Visual Content

Publishers must embrace that we now live in the age of visual content. In March 2021 alone, Cloudinary managed and delivered an average of 2.4 million image and video assets per customer. This number will only continue to grow as consumers look for fast and easy ways to consume content. Publishers must stand out in today’s visual economy by delivering an engaging, well-moderated experience to their audience.

Accomplishing this task, at the scale required, is only made possible through AI and automating repetitive workflows. In up-leveling and automating their visual media processes, publishers can increase speed to market and focus on what really matters — delivering timely and relevant content that boosts credibility and inspires loyal viewership.  

Amit Erental
Business Lines, Senior Manager, Cloudinary

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 more than 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. 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. For more information, visit