Visual trends impacting mobile brand communications in 2016 and beyond

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By Jacqueline Bourke, Getty Images’ global creative insights & planning manager: The use of mobile devices in everyday life isn’t ‘on the rise’ – it has arrived. Smartphone and tablet devices are glued to our hands both in the boardroom and while at home as our working and entertainment habits are dominated by pixels and HD displays.

In 2015, the number of mobile searches exceeded the number of desktop searches for the first time and online buying data shows that 70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour.

The impact of mobile technology has congruently placed a new demand on brands to speak to their audiences, not merely through digital means but specifically through these smaller mobile windows.

In New Zealand, brands such as Sky TV are increasingly shifting their marketing focus towards a more mobile first outlook. With this comes a greater importance on visual communications to create immersive mobile experiences that encourage social participation and emotional engagement with audiences.

However whilst New Zealand is showing phenomenal growth in mobile advertising, many marketers are yet to fully embrace this medium with mobile accounting for only a 2.4% marketshare of the total digital adspend.

At Getty Images, we’ve seen the characteristics of impactful images undergo a drastic transformation as mobile technologies grow in popularity and have identified some visual trends that can help brands select the right visual content to make an impactful mobile experience.

So how have the rules changes and what visuals work best on smaller screens?

Super sensory 

With today’s imagery, it’s all about what can work best on a very small screen. Generally, the first time a customer engages with the Getty Images brand, it’s through a screen only a few inches in size. This means our images need to offer an immersive experience – a high definition, close cropped picture that tantalises the senses.

These new types of images are ‘super sensory’, and our research tells us that a combination of dynamic colour and texture immersion are the most popular with our customers as they stimulate an intense sensory response.

Point of view (POV)

One trend that we can’t see disappearing any time soon is the ‘first person point of view (POV)’. Sales of first person POV visuals are increasing amongst Getty Images customers who purchase for mobile purposes, and customer demand for this type of content has increased by 20%.

This can be attributed to the fact that they provide a more raw and authentic feel, allowing the viewer to put themselves in the shoes of a photographer and experience a stronger level of engagement. Capturing images through mobile technologies from GoPros and drones further add to this experience, creating a sense of realism, excitement and adventure.


In today’s technological world of hyper-connectivity, our sense of space and connection to geographical distances has undergone a revolution, thanks to mobile. Technology is leading to more solo travellers, as smartphones and the always ‘plugged in’ give a sense of security in foreign lands.

New Zealand sales of Wonderlust imagery that is expansive, full of epic landscapes and inspired meaningful travel have increased by 35% over the last five years, influenced by the continuous sharing of travel imagery on social media.

As part of a wonderlust trend, these images deliver an unrivalled authenticity, sparking a desire for more life-enriching experiences that allow people to experience different emotional and psychological spaces.

Pixilation, blurring gain popularity

As these trends grow in popularity, Getty Images is accepting a wider variety of images that we may never have accepted just five years ago; we’re seeing pictures that are pixelated, blurred and cropped with hands and feet included at the edges become the most popular amongst our customers, old and new.

By adding a sense of human imperfection and human body parts to the picture, audiences are increasingly able to immerse themselves in the perspective of the storyteller, ready to go on a journey with brands.

In 2015, it’s vital that New Zealand brands build impactful mobile experiences. Using strong imagery in mobile brand activities drives a connection to our customers, and creating the right visual content can truly unlock the richness that the mobile experience now offers.

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