Your selfies are marketing gold

LUKE MALPASS
Last updated 09:48 20/08/2014
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YOU LOOK COMMERCIAL: Tumblr is thought to be the first site actively attempting to analyse pictures for content.

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From this week, every photo of you posted online could be scanned for commercially useful clues about what you like to eat, drink, wear or listen to.

Social media blogging platform Tumblr will start to analyse every photo posted to a Tumblr site to glean information about users’ brand preferences.

Tumblr, which is owned by Yahoo!, is essentially a feed or aggregator of blogs that a person follows, along with personal photos and information, put up in a dashboard where other people can look at them.

Tech website Mashable has reported that the company has engaged Cambridge Massachusetts based Ditto Labs to analyse the photos posted on the site for brand related data.

“Right now, we’re not planning to do anything ad-related,” says T.R. Newcomb, head of business development at Tumblr, Mashable reported.

“If Coke wants to understand the nature of the conversation [about them on Tumblr], Ditto can sift through and deliver it to Coke,” Newcomb said.

Richenda Vermeulen, director of social media agency ntegrity said the idea of harvesting content would be investigated by all social media players.

“This type of monetisation is indeed attractive to social platforms. It means they can generate revenue without detracting from the user experience,” she said.

The move comes after Yahoo! bought Tumblr for more than a billion dollars last year, and is thought to be the first site actively attempting to analyse pictures for content.

Vermeulen said Tumblr was underestimated as a social network in our part of the world because it is relatively small locally and its demographic is teenagers to early 20s. However, the practice of gathering visual content would likely be followed by other companies if it proved successful, she said.

“Mining visual content means they won’t have to charge users for their service or potentially limit the amount of advertising needed,” Vermeulen said.

“Tumblr hasn’t necessarily caught the eye of Aussie or European brands – it’s far more popular and talked about in the United States. However this may change as digital marketing maturity increases in Australia.”

The contest to maximise revenue and commercial insights from images started to heat up in January when photo-sharing network Pinterest bought VisualGraph, and Google paid $US500 million for DeepMind. Both purchases appear to have a similar mission to the new Tumblr strategy.

“I’m actually surprised this hasn’t come out earlier. [It is probably due to] weighing up the risk off losing users, which is the risk for a social media network. You’d hope Tumblr is sensitive about that risk,” Vermeulen said.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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