What is Stipple, and how did you and your team get started in this field?
Stipple enables marketers to advertise in images that contain their products or spokespeople. We work with great brands like NBC, Shell, BlackBerry and Anheuser-Busch. By placing relevant and accurate interactive content within editorial images, as opposed to ad units, viewers consume the information as core content. This explains the incredible results we see across everything we do. Stipple’s average engagement rate is greater than 7 percent, and our average CTR is greater than 1 percent (10 times that of the display industry average).
Frustration with how images are handled online led us to focus on the Internet’s image problem. Every time images move from one site to another, which happens billions of times per month, images lose all of their associated information, such as who owns the image, where it was taken, tags that may have been added, etc. This impacts everyone, including brands that invest a lot of time and money into developing their websites to showcase their products. Brands surround their product images with lots of related information, such as a description of the product, current price, additional views and videos, similar products, the ability to purchase, etc., all so consumers can make a purchase decision. Unfortunately, as soon as a product image is reposted, recopied, tweeted, etc., none of the associated content goes along with the image.
What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that Stipple would fill a void?
Since the advent of the Internet, images travel all over the place as they’re shared, copied, pasted, tweeted, etc. However, the metadata associated with these images, which establishes ownership and context, gets erased. Stipple changes all of this, giving improved context to images by tagging the products and information within the images and enabling that data to travel with the images, wherever they live online.
With the explosive growth of images online and the rapid transformation of the visual web, the opportunity around images is massive — and growing. Today, it is more common for consumers to see brand-related images freely floating across the web than it is to visit a brands’ website, see their ads or follow them on social media.
As we built out our offering, we anticipated the market shift toward native advertising and content marketing. Stipple enables brands to serve content through editorial images, which is where consumers focus their attention. Furthermore, Stipple’s interactive content is viewer-initiated; consumers choose to engage with the content because it’s highly relevant and accurate to the image they’re viewing. All of this has been core to our product offering since day one.
How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize Stipple to tag images, advertise their clients’ products and track engagement?
As obvious as it sounds, advertising through images is about relevance and accuracy. For example, if an image shows Rachel Roy and Lauren Bush holding handbags as part of a FEED India campaign, any additional content needs to meaningfully enrich the experience. Valuable content for the viewers includes a video highlighting their collaboration, an explanation of how consumers are helping, access to more products and the ability to purchase the handbag from within the image. So, what is good for consumers also helps the brand achieve its awareness and direct response objectives.
Stipple is able to measure everything in real-time as well: which sites are using brands’ images, the content consumers are engaging with most, etc. These unique insights help marketers tailor their messaging and offerings.
What are Stipple’s monetization possibilities for publishers?
Stipple works with tier-one publishers such as People, Condé Nast, Washington Post, Gannett and many more. These top tier publishers are excited to partner with us because we can help them meaningfully and efficiently monetize their images. Stipple offers “we sell” and “you sell” opportunities, meaning that publishers earn revenue from advertisers that Stipple brings or through their existing relationships. We’ve also seen publishers leverage Stipple to drive traffic deeper into their site, specifically to related archival content. The model works because consumers engage more deeply with enriched images, spending more time on publishers’ sites.
How does Stipple work for mobile?
Stipple works across all platforms and devices. The only difference between a mobile and desktop experience is that mobile users touch the image to reveal content, as opposed to mousing over it.
How do you see image tagging evolving in the next three years?
Interactive image tagging is in its infancy, but it is clear that online image growth will continue to explode. We believe that the ability for tags to follow images as they travel across the web and social media is key to unlocking tremendous value for brands, publishers and consumers. It will lead brands to reconsider their approach to digital advertising and make images a central part of the marketing mix. We are very excited to be working with major brands that are forward thinking.
However, this is just the beginning. In the future, images will be intelligent. By simply touching an image, consumers will know exactly who and what is in them. Much like when Google’s ability to understand text within an article changed our lives, Stipple is pioneering the way to truly understand images and unlock their full potential.
Rey Flemings is a proven entrepreneur with roots in the music industry. He currently serves as the co-founder and CEO of Stipple, the global leader in image-based advertising and e-commerce. Stipple enables brands to advertise within images that contain their products on Facebook and Twitter and through editorial images on tier-one publishers across the Internet and mobile devices.
Prior to Stipple, Rey was CEO of Particle, which developed early consumer applications based on HTML5 and cloud applications. Particle was acquired by Apple. Previously, Rey was the co-founder and CEO of Tennman Digital, the technology investment and incubator arm of the Justin Timberlake family. He also served as COO of Tennman Records, a joint venture between Timberlake and Interscope.
Originally published Jun 6, 2013 1:00:37 AM, updated December 03 2014