The visual web—the shift from text to images as the anchor of online content—96 percent of marketers agree, is important to the future of digital marketing. A new study, “The Rise of the Visual Web. And Why It’s Changing Everything (Again) For Marketers,” released by digital marketing platform GumGum, polled more than 200 digital marketing professionals on its role in their work and how the trend will affect them going forward.

GumGum’s report defines the visual web as a social media phenomenon derived from cameras on smartphones and the rise of photo-sharing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. Its survey of 213 brand marketers found that 69 percent declared that visual elements are very important to the day-to-day marketing functions of their company.

“In today’s digital environment, images speak much louder than words. Nowhere is that truer than in consumer marketing,” says Ben Plomion, senior vice president of marketing at GumGum. “Two billion images are uploaded and shared daily, and, as a part of this visual economy, marketers have the opportunity to capture customer attention, create engagement, elicit emotion and convey information in a format that consumers are clearly signaling that they enjoy.”

The visual web concept is still new, with only 52 percent of respondents somewhat familiar or very familiar with the term. However, 88 percent of marketers placed the highest value on the role of sight, when asked which of the human senses are most important when attempting to influence consumer behavior.

Buying advertising media across the visual web remains difficult, say 49 percent of respondents, despite most (69 percent) spending more than $100,000 annually to create visual content to support marketing objectives and 45 percent spending more than $1 million annually to distribute the visual content.

“Marketing is all about capturing a customer’s attention and telling your brand’s story,” adds Plomion. “Today, customers are demonstrating, with the adoption of ad blockers, that they want to be reached in a way that doesn’t distract them from or intrude upon their experience. We’re seeing this in practice in our own in-image advertising work as well as through the emergence of buy buttons across visually based platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. What was most surprising in our survey was that, as an industry, advertising technology is not yet meeting expectations for buying media across the visual web and at GumGum we’re on a mission to change that.”

Download the report here to learn more about advertising and the visual web, and how marketers are moving to take advantage of it.