Marketers Must Embrace Visual Communication to Cut Through the ‘Data Overload’

47 per cent are stressed by marketers targeting them with irrelevant content
66 per cent find it easier to understand documents and stories that contain maps and graphics
Aylesbury, UK: A new study shows that over 35 per cent of Brits are affected daily by debilitating stress from ‘data overload’, according to digital mapping and analytics specialist, Esri UK. The survey of 1,000 adults across the UK, backed by a cognitive psychologist highlights a growing problem for marketers. It found that our constantly connected culture is leaving many people struggling to process the vast amount of emails, news, social media posts and digital documents both at work and in their personal lives.
Around two-thirds (61 per cent) of consumers surveyed claim that the need to read and keep track of information from too many sources is a major concern in their daily lives, and 34 per cent say they struggle to absorb the content. One of the main causes of stress (suffered by 47 per cent) is irrelevant content by marketers and spam emails.

For many (44 per cent), the solution is to deliberately ignore communications that come in – with 14 per cent even hiding their device to avoid checking it. This is resulting in marketing communication being lost and ignored.
According to a study by Mindlab(1) involving scanned brainwaves, when tasks were presented visually, rather than using traditional text-based formats, individuals used around 20 per cent less cognitive resources – meaning the brain works a lot less hard. As a result, during the tests individuals performed more efficiently and could remember more of the information when asked later.

Esri UK’s survey reveals a significant demand for information to be presented visually, with 60 per cent saying they find maps or graphics easier to understand and digest than lots of text.
Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Consumer and Business Psychologist at University College London (UCL) comments: “It is unsurprising that, given the amount of data we are bombarded with on a daily basis, 34% of respondents were found to struggle to absorb all the content presented to them. When demands on the working memory exceed its capacity an overload occurs, which is detrimental to information comprehension(2).

“Paying attention to a vast amount of data requires multitasking, rapidly switching attention from one source to another, which has been found to increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol(3). Receiving novel information activates the brain’s reward pathway, which leads to a continuous cycle in which we are compelled to seek out more and more information, eventually resulting in a state of restlessness(4).

“Research has proven that by visually presenting information, data processing demands on the brain can be reduced.”

Stuart Bonthrone, Managing Director of Esri UK, adds: “As consumers, we can all relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed by our constantly-connected culture. Marketers have benefitted from communication channels which are just a click of a button away instantly updating the news feeds the news feeds of their target audience. However, our survey shows that this is having a detrimental effect on consumers as they process ever-increasing amounts of information. Marketers and businesses need to understand the pressure this is putting on individuals and seek new ways to present information, marketing communications and news. Visualising data is proven to be easier to digest, understand and recall. The phrase ‘a picture can tell a thousand words’ has never more true!”


About Esri UK
Esri UK is a privately held, UK-owned company that provides world-class enterprise geographic information systems (GIS) and location analytics technology solutions. The company’s solutions help businesses, governments and educational institutions make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography. Headquartered in Aylesbury, Esri UK operates from six regional offices across the country. Since 1991, it has been delivering proven solutions based on technology from Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (Esri), the world’s leading GIS software provider. These include location analytics solutions that enable organisations to geo-enable their business data with intuitive mapping and analytical tools and quickly discover answers to business challenges. Esri UK’s technology delivers a range of business solutions in different markets as well as catering for system integrators and application developers through the Esri Developer Network.