VenueSeen Opens Up API, Allows Brands to Build Custom Instagram Campaigns

BetaKit covered the launch of VenueSeen Campaigns, an Instagram campaign management platform from the Columbus, OH-based startup VenueSeen, in late 2012, and today the company announced that it will be opening up its API to give brands even more flexibility in how they leverage the user-generated photos. Looking to help companies create custom campaigns using its platform and tie content on the popular photo sharing app to real-world business outcomes, it also announced Indy 500 as its first partner, who will be using the startup’s API to plot fans’s geotagged and hashtagged photos on an interactive map, in addition to a sweepstakes contest.

CEO Brain Zuercher spoke with BetaKit about the type of businesses that have adopted the company’s platform thus far. “We were delighted to get a bunch of interest from a range of different types of businesses, from professional sports teams to retail outlets and product brands. What we heard from them was that this was a great way to leverage the organic content created by their customers,” said Zuercher.  “It’s still early for a lot of brands to get their arms around content…[they are] starting to look at the social media market less as how to advertise in those markets, but actually how to leverage the content and conversation happening about their product or services.”

Originally only a monitoring solution that allowed brands to access hashtagged and geotagged photos associated with specific retail locations, brands can now pull photos, comments, and check-ins from both Instagram and Foursquare. The Instagram campaign tool it launched a few months ago is an end-to-end solution where marketers can execute hashtag-driven campaigns and point users to sign up for an email or visit their website.

When asked why companies wouldn’t prefer to just go straight to the source and access Instagram’s API directly, Zuercher said that if they were going to go down that route, they would have only raw content as a starting point. However, with VenueSeen, they have context around how best to leverage the content and are equipped with a dashboard where they can interact with their most loyal customers. Like its campaign tool, access to the API will also be on a per-campaign basis, with average monthly costs ranging between $1,000 to $6,000 depending on the needs of the client.

Startups are increasingly looking to help companies tap into their customers’ affinity for photos. Everything from Curalate’s Pinterest content and promotion tool, to other services focused exclusively on Instagram, including image recognition tools that pinpoint everything from logos to branded merchandize with platforms like gazeMetrix, or ones that crowdsource photo information like CrowdSend. “We’re not like a social media management tool. Our business is in finding consumer generated visual content and giving marketers the tool to activate that content,” Zeurcher added.

He also noted that the company wasn’t planning on exclusively focusing its efforts on Instagram, but rather going where the content is. With Instagram learning the hard way just how fickle its users are, the company may just have to keep its eyes out for the next big wave of content, which may be photos, or a newer trend like social video.


Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan is a Senior Writer and Analyst at BetaKit. A marketing graduate with honors, Humayun's work experience spans the fields of consumer behaviour with noted contributions in an academic paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and market research consulting having coordinated projects for a major financial services client at Decode Inc. More recently he was involved in business strategy as a Business Analyst for an equipment rental outlet and prior in the National Marketing Department at Ernst & Young LLP. He is passionate about emerging and disrupting technology and its ability to transform and create entirely new industries.

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