In his recent article about Facebook, Instagram and the future of photos, Ad Age’s David Teicher remarks that “there’s more to photo innovation than filters.” Now that we’re taking all these pictures on our phones and sharing them across our social networks, what’s next? Adding functionality that will turn each photo into rich consumer experience, he says.
David interviewed me for the article, and asked me why images aren’t more interactive already:
Luminate CRO, Chas Edwards, notes a few obstacles to making this vision a reality. First is the work that goes into it. Right now, these services either rely on people-powered tagging, image recognition, or both, but the ability to scale this functionality — to make it easy for people to accurately tag the products or outfits in photos, were they so inclined, is not an easy endeavor. Secondly, there’s a reason people tag other people — they get paid, not in money, but in social currency, through ‘likes’ and ‘shares.’
Facebook is the leader when it comes to paying us in social currency for tagging images: There’s no better way to increase your “Like” counts than tagging others in the picture. But there isn’t a similar reward for tagging things in the image other than your friends, and Facebook’s brand tagging product hasn’t experienced popularity anywhere near that of friend tagging.
A few new startups (such as ThingLink) are hoping publishers will start tagging products and brands inside their own images. It’s still early days, but my hunch is that publishers don’t have the spare cycles necessary to add image-tagging to their queues, especially when you consider the enormous (and growing) volume of images posted each day by large publishers. Our bet here at Luminate is that publishers want (need?) to give their readers a richer image experience, but that we need to help them with the tagging. Image recognition gets us part of the way. Human assistance — communities of people working on top of crowdsourcing platforms — gets us the rest of way. Once we know who, what and where we’re looking at, we can deliver image apps that make a photo more delightful for almost anyone.