When it comes to maximizing the value of photos that ricochet across Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and other sites, marketers are moving the goal posts. Whereas it was once enough just to encourage consumers to follow your site and share your images, some companies are moving to the next level with the help of more robust analytics.
Ecommerce brand The Grommet produces a steady stream of photos and, early on, found value in Pinterest. Like other companies, however, it found tracking the virality of online photos a challenge. The Boston-based company turned to Curalate, an image analytics platform, for help.
Founded in 2011, Curalate tracks where images are shared on Pinterest and Instagram. It uses image recognition algorithms that examine online images and matches them to a database of images to determine which photos have been pinned by a Pinterest user or shared on Instagram.
If a Grommet customer, for example, pinned on Pinterest an image of a necklace that has been repinned numerous times without the brand’s name or website, Curalate will alert The Grommet that this is a popular item.
“Curalate gave us a whole new set of metrics for determining if our marketing strategy on Pinterest was working by giving us the analytics around the particular images that were getting the most pins and repins,” said Tori Tait, senior community manager at The Grommet. “This was data that we could quickly scan and use immediately.”
Curalate’s image analytics provided a sharp contrast to broader offerings, like Google Analytics. “With Google Analytics, the data is in the form of thousands of referral links from an image that people click on Pinterest,” Tait added. “No one is going to open each of those URLs to see which image it was and tally them. There was too much data that was very manual.”
One measure of success can be found in how the company conducts and measures its Pinterest contests. Running a contest on Pinterest previously involved asking fans to create a new board, pin the image, tag it, and email the link to The Grommet. “The results were okay, but it was clunky and we couldn’t tell if it was successful or not,” Tait said.
Using Curalate’s Promotion Tool, The Grommet streamlined the process by having users pin the image below anywhere on their own Pinterest board, along with an image of a product they would like to own, to enter the contest. From the back end, Curalate separated the contest pins from users’ regular pins. One winner was drawn at random and received a $500 gift card to The Grommet.
Tait and her colleagues had set a goal of increasing the number of Grommet product images being shared on Pinterest by 10% over two weeks, but they ended up with a 683% increase during that period. They also increased their Pinterest follower base by 14%, exceeding the original 5% goal.
Since it was launched in 2008, The Grommet has displayed on its site more than 1,600 various household, beauty and fashion products that have flown under the radar of large retailers. Rakuten, the Japanese ecommerce giant, took a majority stake in the Daily Grommet in early May and renamed it The Grommet. The company has 41 employees and, prior to the investments from Rakuten (which have not been disclosed), The Grommet had raised $5.7 million from angel investors.
As The Grommet continues to grow, the firm will do more with image analytics, Tait confirmed. “I can see us using images that Curalate helps us find for display ads, and if video gains more traction on Pinterest, maybe Curalate will be able to help with that, too.”
Indeed, agencies and ad networks are showing a growing interest in image analytics, Curalate CEO Apu Gupta claimed. He says the company aims to help clients create an “automated system that uses images that are resonating with people and creating a feed into an ad. It’s very complementary to the ad tech world and ad tech infrastructure.”
Based in Philadelphia, Curalate has raised $3.8 million in VC funding and has 18 employees.
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