Adobe Stock Creativity Insights How COVID-19 and the BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT HAVE impacted VISUAL trends

Between the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise of social unrest and of the Black Lives Matter movement, 2020 has been an incredibly challenging and important year for everyone, including creatives. These circumstances have led to inevitable changes to both creative and visual landscapes.

As recently revealed in Adobe’s State of Creativity survey, 91% of creatives admit that COVID-19 and nationwide protests have inspired them to incorporate real-world issues into their work, with 87% now reevaluating the subject matter of stock imagery in campaigns.

To understand the needs of creatives and marketers, Adobe Stock released a report revealing insights related to visual and cultural trends seen in 2020.

The report underscores the growing demand for content subject matter which is timely, diverse, and reflective of social issues.

Here are the key findings:

COVID-19 has Changed the Way we Visualize our World.

Images of people quickly moved from in-person imagery to feature virtual spaces with 5.7 times more daily searches for "virtual" stock images post-state of emergency (March 14 to Sept. 22) compared to pre-state of emergency (Jan. 1 to March 13).

"Virtual" Asset Daily Search Growth 2020

Searches on Adobe Stock for “People” has shifted. In today's world, creatives and marketers are now looking for content that shows “people-on-screens,” instead of “people-in-person”.

Top licensed images in "People" category by month 2019 & 2020

The Image of Business has Changed.

In 2019, in-person meetings and collaboration were prominently featured in the top licensed images in the “Business” category. However, in 2020 we see meeting rooms and office spaces traded out for video conferencing calls and social distancing imagery.

In addition, masked workers were briefly the top licensed image, but remote work imagery immediately retook the top spot.

Top licensed images in “Business” category by month 2019 & 2020

The Black Lives Matter Movement Dramatically Changed our Visual Discourse About People

Demand for imagery for Black men and Black women grew following the death of George Floyd and corresponding protests against social injustices in June, adopting a tone that is more civically engaged.

January was the pinnacle for growth regarding searches for “diversity” assets (402% YoY growth), which were soon eclipsed by searches for “Black Lives Matter” assets in Aprilpeaking in June (810% YoY) in searches on "diversity", "African American" and “Black Lives Matter.”

Year Over Year Search Growth
BLM Search and License MoM Growth 2020

Creators are Meeting the Moment

New image uploads for both Social Issues and Science categories are growing roughly as quickly as searches.

On average, creators are uploading 180% more content under Social Issues in each month.

Searches and licenses for “protest” assets reached an apex in June (1,100% MoM growth for searches and 1,000% for licenses), and have seen steady growth YoY going into the fall season, revealing that creatives are taking a stance on social activism.

"Protest" Search and License MoM Growth 2020

Creators are also uploading 147% more content under Science each month. Currently 6 of the top 10 licensed assets in the science category are COVID-19 related, down from 10 out of 10 back in March.

Image Category Growth Uploads vs. Searches 2020

This data was gathered by Adobe Analytics and based on an analysis of 149+ million U.S. visits, and millions of asset uploads to Adobe Stock from January 2019 to September 2020.

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