Optimizing the browser lengthy tail throughout platforms, units, and nations

30 second summary:

  • If a company or brand is to go global, it needs to understand the intricacies of where and how consumers surf, and realize that real optimization needs to take into account trends in content usage and regional device or browser differences.
  • Better user experiences and higher engagement depend on it.
  • When optimizing the graphics for a website there is no “mobile vs. Desktop “.
  • Cloudinary’s vice president of marketing explains how to optimize on a global scale.

Just as diverse as the devices and browsers that people around the world use to surf the Internet, the Internet is a complex digital world. If a company or brand is to go global, it needs to understand the intricacies of where and how consumers surf, and realize that real optimization needs to take into account trends in content usage and regional device or browser differences. Better user experiences and higher engagement depend on it. Learn more about how optimizing browser long tail can help your business.

Visual storytelling is everything, but not easy

Marketers rely heavily on visual elements as part of their strategy for meaningful impact and a great first impression. Whether a clothing product is being sold or a professional service is being marketed, a photo or video conveys value faster than a written description. Providing compelling graphics on a website is critical to delivering the desired call to action for a website visitor. Often times, however, it is technical details that hamper a brand’s visual storytelling efforts.

When optimizing the graphics for a website there is no “mobile vs. Desktop “. This simplistic either-or mentality was once a helpful reminder for developing responsive and easy-to-use websites, but it doesn’t take into account every possible touch point.

Imagine this scenario: the first thing in the morning is a man checking his WhatsApp messages on his phone to see that a friend has shared a Facebook link for a fitness watch. Then he begins to study it more closely on his device before he gets out of bed. As soon as he is logged in to his desktop during working hours, he does additional research and examines the product details and functions. He later goes to the website on his tablet to show his girlfriend the clock as a birthday clue and links to customer testimonial videos to bring his point home. Before he calls it for a day, he’s back on WhatsApp or texting on his cell phone, telling his friend that he’s almost certain that the watch will soon be his.

As shown in this example, there are several important aspects to consider when creating a visual story on the internet: the default browser on the man’s device, the micro-browser through which he communicates with friends, the preview associated with unfolded social media links is; and finally the various devices with which it interacts, each with different size and aspect ratio requirements. Nothing is more frustrating than investing a lot of time and resources creating beautiful graphics for a campaign only to find that audiences don’t see them as they were intended.

The browser long tail and other browser dynamics shouldn’t affect your graphics

Despite the dominant players in the global browser market, there is still a browser long tail – a list of different browser versions used by consumers – with significant regional variations. Consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they look at brands, but a major reason for consistency issues is a developer’s limited view of how long this global list of relevant browser types really is.

In this year’s Visual Media State Report, Cloudinary found that Chrome and Safari continue to lead the global browser market (63.91% and 18.2% respectively), but lesser-known variants still have an impact in many parts of the world. For example, when analyzing more than 200 billion monthly transactions with 700 customers, research has shown that Nokia devices are still popular in Northern Europe and that Nintendo DS systems have high traffic in certain Asian markets. Surprisingly, even image traffic comes from older office software such as Lotus Notes. Understanding these nuances of browser long-tail across different regions can help developers ensure that whatever image or video format they use is supported by a viewer’s browser.

Adoption of visual content and Lite mode to improve exposure time

In April 2020, 18% of the world’s Android users enabled the “Save Data” or “Lite Mode” feature, which enables faster browsing by reducing the amount of mobile data used. In this mode, Google’s servers can consider web pages fully loaded without processing large-format and data-rich visual content. With this knowledge, developers can use visual content to ensure the user experience is the best without affecting the website’s performance. According to Cloudinary data, web developers working on tweaking Lite mode will benefit from longer engagements and up to a 10% increase in session engagement. Given the strong correlation between customized content and prolonged engagement, it is in a developer’s interest to ensure that the graphics are customized for that device mode and its users.

Smart asset optimization for a seamless user experience

To make sure a website’s images and videos are responsive, you don’t just have to adjust the layout properly. Now more than ever, it is a matter of ensuring that content makes the most of the orientation of landscape and portrait devices. A responsive site layouts, resizes, and moves items dynamically based on the properties of the browser or device on which the site is being viewed.

AI can automatically detect the visual requirements of web visitors and their browsers and automatically deliver each image and video in the most efficient format, quality and resolution. AI can also identify the subject in an image that is most likely to attract a viewer’s attention to automate the resizing and cropping of visual content.

The long tail of the browser shouldn’t detract from a user’s visual experience on a website. Development teams should prepare for the browser longtail to understand and reach their target audience. Only when they put their arms around the vast universe of browser dynamics can they create an online visual storytelling experience that is consistent and meaningful around the world.

Sanjay Sarathy is VP Marketing at Cloudinary.

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