Curalate, the Philadelphia-based startup BetaKit covered when it launched its new Pinterest contest and promotion tools, announced today that it will now support Instagram analytics as well as the ability to run promotional campaigns on the popular photo-sharing app. Using its image recognition algorithms Curalate finds, matches, and collects images on visual social media platforms such as Pinterest and now Instagram to help brands like Nine West, Michael Kors, and Gap better track which products and images drive greater engagement with consumers.
CEO and co-founder Apu Gupta spoke with BetaKit about the move, speaking to the fact that Instagram has increasingly become a key platform being adopted by major brands. “One of the things that became very clear was that Instagram was really becoming top-of-mind for brands. They were becoming very fascinated with how Instagram could be used as a platform to engage consumers and well as listen to and understand what consumers were interested in,” said Gupta in an interview. “When you think about the sheer number of users…between Instagram and Pinterest, you’re talking about well over 100 million users, which makes things very interesting.”
One of the key drivers behind adding another platform was what Gupta sees as the next big wave of cross-channel engagement and promotion, moving from just Twitter and Facebook to new visual networks. With the ability to integrate activity on both Instagram and Pinterest, brands using Curalate will now be able to create a single feed of the visual content relevant to their products while being able to segment engagement between fan-posted and brand-posted images to see which kinds work best. When it comes to surfacing content from a brand’s Instagram feed, it sorts images by popularity and relevancy over recency so that brands can focus on optimizing engagement levels.
Brands will now also be able to create campaigns on Instagram, pin those images straight to Pinterest, and post to Facebook from Curalate’s dashboard and suite of tools. Though previously Gupta said the pricing for accessing Curalate was variable based on campaign specific metrics, it has since then moved to a more fixed pricing model with Instagram included in the mix of tools it offers.
When asked about how Curalate positions itself amidst a growing number of competitors that also leverage image-recognition technology including gazeMetrix, Pixlee, and VenueSeen, Gupta said the company wants to be platform agnostic, becoming a hub for the visual web similar to what Salesforce’s Radian6 and BuddyMedia are for more text-driven networks. Which is one of the reason it didn’t add a ‘pin’ to its name akin to Pinterest marketing platform Pinfluencer, which recently hit 50 clients, or Octopin and Pinpuff among others.
“The reason that we didn’t call ourselves ‘pin’ something or another is that we believe it’s about the images and not the platform. We want to be the hub of all visual conversation, visual engagement, regardless of what platform that occurs on,” Gupta added.
Though we reported Curalate had almost 600 clients when we last covered the company, Gupta confirmed that at the time only 200 were paying customers, a number that has grown to more than 350 recently. In terms of which network it has its eye on next, Gupta mentioned Tumblr, or giving brands tools to better understand what images drive the most engagement on Facebook. With several companies providing analytics and influencer data for just Pinterest or Instagram, bringing the two visual powerhouses together on one platform will likely drive adoption with brands feeling the pain of managing multiple analytic tools and accounts, however, with several other startups looking to up the ante with their own image recognition technology, the company will have to stay on its toes as the space continues to heat up.