Marketers Are Taking a Closer Look at Your Tumblr Photos. Here's Why.

Marketers will now have access to more nuanced references, not just explicit mentions.

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By Laura Entis • Aug 8, 2014 Originally published Aug 8, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social media is a huge boon for brands, providing marketers with valuable insight into who is interacting with their products, as well as how they are doing so.

Explicit mentions or interactions with a brand – be it through hashtags, text, follows or likes – are undeniably valuable. However, as image-based social platforms have taken off, these mentions represent just a percentage of the information that can be gleaned by examining consumers' social-media activity.

In this vein, Tumblr is giving Ditto Labs direct access to all public photos posted on the platform. Ditto Labs is a startup that analyzes public photos posted on social media for brands and products.

Related: Consider These 5 Things When Adding Visuals to Social-Media Content

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company has already analyzed photos for a host of big name brands, including Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Cadillac and Coca-Cola. The idea is that, unlike explicit mentions via hashtag or text, photos that include a product offer more nuanced, and therefore potentially more valuable, insight into how it is perceived by consumers. For example, by scouring photos on social media, the yogurt-maker Chobani discovered that many consumers were repurposing the cup holders in their cars as yogurt holders, information that could lead the brand to target on-the-go snackers, Mashable reported.

Ditto Labs' technology is able to recognize different facial expressions to gauge sentiment, differentiate between a selfie and a group photo as well as if a product or logo is an intentional or accidental inclusion. The collected information will be made available to brands looking to better understand how consumers view them on Tumblr, but it won't impact the ads users see on the platform (at least, not yet). "Right now, we're not planning to do anything ad-related," T.R. Newcomb, head of business development at Tumblr, told Mashable. That, of course, could change.

Ditto Labs already analyzes public photos on Instagram and Twitter, according to a company spokesperson.

In a 2013 feature, Ditto Labs co-founder and CEO David Rose told Fast Company that the name for his company was inspire by the powerful incentive felt by an average person to buy a product used by his or her friend. He envisions an advertising landscape where brands could target individuals based on the content of their photos posted on social media, or even the content of their friends' photos.

Related: Pinterest Just Made It Easier to Discover Pins You Care About

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Tumblr's involvement in the photo analysis. The photo-sharing site granted access to Ditto Labs, which will analyze users' public photos.

Laura Entis
Laura Entis is a reporter for Fortune.com's Venture section.

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