How Many Words Is a Picture Really Worth?

SEMA News—June 2017


By Craig Schmutzler

How Many Words Is a Picture Really Worth?

We have all heard the phrase time and time again: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Really? Is it? In the product data business, we understand that buying decisions are based on product presentation. While it is important to ensure that descriptions are complete and features and benefits are clear, we certainly understand that there is something to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.

As an online shopper, I can honestly say that I generally will not buy what I cannot first see. The reason people shop online is that it is convenient. To those in the e-commerce business, this means that the online experience has to emulate the in-store experience to the greatest degree possible. Quality images and video help to replicate the feeling of being in front of the product. In addition to quality, quantity and variety are important.

Imagine going to a store and being forced to make your buying decision by doing nothing more than looking at the front of the box as it sits on the shelf. People don’t shop in stores like that, and they have no desire to shop online like that. Consumers want to see multiple shots of the product from different angles. They want to see videos of the product being installed and used. Savvy suppliers understand this need and are eager to provide a strong selection of digital assets to accompany a variety of well-written product descriptions.

The quality and number of images used can have a significant impact on an online retailer’s conversion rate. A study by LivePerson, a chat solution provider, found that 56% of online customers abandon the buying process due to insufficient product information.

Digital assets are key components of good product presentation. According to Forbes, 50% of online shoppers find that high-quality product images are more important in their buying decisions than product information, descriptions and reviews.

Videos are becoming ever more important to consumers. Research firm Marketing Sherpa found that website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video. There is no denying that well-produced video content can be of tremendous value to online retailers.

With respect to length, our feeling is that videos should be no longer than is absolutely required to serve their purpose—typically less than three minutes. People are busy; time is one of our most valuable commodities; and we have ever-decreasing attention spans. Videos need to be engaging, informative and concise. A failure in any one of these three areas will likely result in the viewer going elsewhere for content.

Reservations regarding the production of digital assets often relate more to time than to money. Digital cameras are cheap, and technology allows for even novices to produce acceptable images. It is challenging to find the time to get everything done that is necessary in order to grow and maintain a business.

The return on investment in quality images and video is well worth the required time and resources. Quality data must be a priority in today’s competitive landscape. Now more than ever, digital assets need to play a significant role in the overall data strategy of a company.

So is a picture worth a thousand words? We don’t know, but we do know that good digital assets support the buying process and improve conversion rates. Maybe the question we should ask is: “How many dollars is a picture worth?”

To learn more about how you can take control and manage your product data at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Membership Manager Allen Horwitz via email at or by phone at 888-958-6698 x9.

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