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The Future of Digital Media: Stay Ahead of the Competition Through Technology and AI

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, virtual reality, the so-called metaverse—it can be tough to keep tabs on the development of technologies. In particular, for businesses or brands characterized by highly visual experiences—retail, entertainment, travel and hospitality, and so forth—identifying which technologies to prioritize is challenging.

At Cloudinary, we’ve long been navigating the great expanse of technology, particularly as it relates to the future of digital media. This article walks you through a few cutting-edge trends and AI advances to help you stay competitive in the visual economy.

Numerous analyses of data and the current gaps in the market suggest that brands should be using AI more throughout their creative process, especially to understand the meaning or intended use of media assets. Why? Because, since AI can recognize objects in images and videos, you can better serve with AI those who shop through social networks like Instagram. Thanks to AI, automated understanding of context, such as the relationship between objects, becomes possible. Consequently, shoppers can figure out fast how they could use various products in real life, and you can hone in on specific messages and intent based on shopper behavior.

Eventually, more aspects of data will be collected across media by means of visual, audio, and space tools to help businesses reach an intertwined understanding of their merchandise.

Now more than ever, technology is empowering people to express themselves. As they look ahead to the technology that will transform media creation, brands will be searching for ways and means that make it easier for shoppers to automate, discover, and create content. That’s because creation is becoming more commoditized, and companies are increasingly leveraging more user-generated content (UGC) in marketing campaigns. Hence a shift in the creation of technology: Content-development applications that were previously built for developers only are now being targeted as tools for individuals and content designers.

As far as content creation goes, individuals are bound by their own imagination only. The sky’s the limit as to the potential for building captivating, rich content with technology.

Ultimately, however, simplicity is key. Easy-to-use automation tools enable content creation at scale. For example, Cloudinary recently launched MediaFlows, a low-code, visual-first media builder with which you can develop flexible and scalable applications on an intuitive, web-based drag-and-drop interface. Plus, MediaFlows interconnects with Cloudinary’s API and services so that you can design, deploy, test, and scale media applications in only minutes, not days as before.

Consumption of online content changes over time. In the early days of the internet, consumers were impressed with basic, static images. As technology progressed, expectations became more dynamic, i.e., people wanted to be able to engage with content by, for example, stepping through a series of photos or clicking Play on a video. Site visitors nowadays want to be able to interact fully with the visuals—like rotating product images on e-commerce sites with 360-degree views for inspection—as if they (the visitors) were physically in the store .

In addition, consumers are looking for advances in 3D and augmented reality (AR) technology so as to be able to relate to the products being displayed on a site and imagine using them in real life. Take, for example, a piece of art. If consumers could take a photo of it and, with the help of technology, see what it would look like when placed in their living room, their confidence in a purchasing decision would surge significantly.

Bottom line: The name of the game for the future is realism. Consumers desire that brands manufacture reality into a small-screen format for a feel of whatever is displayed looks like in the real world.

Possibilities abound for the future of web performance for visuals. Image formats, which started with basic JPEG, now boast multiple codecs: WebP, AV1, AVIF, and JPEG XL. Formats and their related technology are constantly unfolding to meet the ever-growing demands and standards of consumers with a top goal of increasingly compressing content without sacrificing quality.

As technical knowhow continually advances, we at Cloudinary are all too aware of the challenge you face in pinpointing what exactly to adopt so as to create a compelling end-user experience. Above all, we’re dedicated to helping you determine the best way to integrate technologies into your business. For a unique perspective, check out our ImageCon 2021 session The Future of Digital Media.

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