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The Impact Of An Image

The Impact Of An Image

By Susan Williams

Everyday we are bombarded with images.

In fact, it’s estimated that the average person sees between 4,000 to 10,000 digital ads a day alone. And within these digital ads, the use of an image is often used. And for good reason.

Hubspot shared the following as it relates to digital marketing and images;

“When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.”

Marketers know this.

This is why you will often see an image within an advertisement of either what people aspire to be like or from someone they believe (for example the use of a celebrity) or use an image of someone who they can relate to (for example someone with a similar lifestyle promoting the use a certain product).

But there is one demographic that is not being reflected either in volume or in positive ways by the media or by marketing firms at all and that is the older person.

In an analysis of images conducted by the AARP, they discovered;

“… of more than 1,000 images, found that while 46 percent of the U.S. adult population is over 50, only 15 percent of media imagery reflects this age group. Additionally, the analysis found that consumers 50-plus are often portrayed as dependent or socially isolated, and that while 1 in 3 people in the U.S. labor force are 50 and older, only 13 percent of the images showed this age group in a work setting”

And the images that are available, are often really quite sad. For example, just type “older person” in any of the stock image providers and sadly, you’re more often then not presented with lonely, isolated or mobility challenged individuals.

Then there is the other side of this coin as well. Any “positive images” will show older people (usually as a couple) with flowing silver locks blowing in the wind often lounging on a boat, sitting on a beach or playing golf. Again, not necessarily reflective of the aging reality.

So AARP and Getty Images announced a plan to try and change this. They created the “Disrupt Aging Collection”. This collection of images shares older people in real life situations doing real life things.

And this is a really good thing.

I spoke with Dr. Kate Keib, an Assistant Professor at Oglethorpe University. Dr. Keib has a particular interest in examining credibility in online news, attention, engagement and emotion in social media. She shared with me some of the research she and her colleagues conducted on the influence that images can have within the media news.

Dr. Keib confirmed that images are extremely important to content – and especially positive images. She told me the research found that “Positive images illicit a higher level of emotion along with intentions to share and to click.“. However what was also interesting is that their research didn’t find the same impact when negative images were shown.

When I asked Dr. Keib her thoughts on the use of either positive or negative images of aging in the media, she shared that she could not say for certain that the same results would translate to the aging population. To really understand the impact, she suggests they deserved a similar study focused specifically on their demographic. She did add however that “in order for content to be most successfully consumed & engaged with, media should use images that elicit what that audience sees as positive.”. And in turn society will see this view of aging as well.

At any rate, hopefully this focus on realistic images of aging will ignite others to join in to create and share images that truly reflect the actual realities of aging. Possibly then we will not have to find them only in a special collection.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.