Tech Profile: Curalate
Curalate enables a brand to measure, monitor and grow its presence on Pinterest and the visual web. We launched Curalate in late 2011 after noticing the increase of visual communication online.
As more people were communicating online with images — thus showing an increased interest in specific products — they also used far fewer words. This has caused the effectiveness of conventional keyword search methods to decrease. As a result, we brought together a number of technologies that enabled us to effectively “read images,” and we launched the first platform capable of producing useful analytics for the visual web, starting with Pinterest.
How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize Curalate to create better end-results for its clients’ content and marketing strategies?
Pinterest represents both a powerful way to tap into consumer interests at an extremely granular level. It also provides brands with the opportunity to develop a deeper emotional connection with consumers through imagery. The Pinterest platform is a shift away from people and places to things. Consumers interact with the products and content that brands produce rather than the actual brand itself. This provides brands the ability to understand what’s important to consumers early in the sales funnel, which hasn’t been possible on this scale before. Smart brands are using insights from Pinterest obtained from platforms like Curalate to refine their content and marketing strategies, thus enabling brands to form more relevant connections with consumers.
As a visual platform, Pinterest also gives brands the opportunity and ability to share its product stories in a richer, more visually engaging manner. I believe we’ll see brands creating content or repurposing existing content in ways that elevate brand messaging visually and cohesively on Pinterest and other related visual sites.
What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that Curalate would fill a void?
Pinterest has certainly become the poster-child for communicating with images, but the shift is not limited to just that platform. Sites like Tumblr, Polyvore, Fancy and a few others all demonstrate a desire for people to communicate visually and to cut the web’s massive amount of content into smaller, more easily digestible and understandable curated chunks.
Brands want to connect with consumers who communicate with and consume visual content. However, before brands will put real resources behind connecting with consumers visually, a brand must be able to measure and monitor its presence on these emerging platforms. Unfortunately, today’s traditional social media analytics tools don’t work well in visual environments because these platforms rely upon the presence of keywords. On visual sites like Pinterest, these keywords are rarely present, rendering the resulting analytics incomplete.
Pinterest has more than 11.7 million users who spend an average of 405 minutes on the site each month. How do you see the brand uses and interaction on the site growing in the coming six to nine months?
Over the past three months, we’ve seen the number of brands who want to make use of Pinterest soar. However, there are still a lot of brands struggling with how to make use of Pinterest. Part of this stems from the fact that many brands are taking a Facebook-like approach to Pinterest – worrying primarily about cultivating and curating a brand experience on their Pinterest page and ignoring the organic engagement that comes as a result of pinning from a brand’s website.
Increasingly, we’ll start to see brands take a differentiated approach to Pinterest. They’ll realize that the types of interactions on the site will need to be different than on other social media platforms. Smart brands will also realize that Pinterest shouldn’t be treated as it’s own independent social media island either. Instead, Pinterest will become a useful way of determining the types of content that can resonate on other social media channels.
Over the coming months, we expect that brands will increasingly use insights derived from Pinterest analytics services to make more material investments into utilizing Pinterest. We believe brands will increasingly use this information to optimize their social media, e-commerce and advertising strategies. We also believe that as a company gains confidence in its ability to measure and monitor its Pinterest presence, it will naturally begin looking for creative ways to grow engagement on there as well. This will pave the way for both agencies and technology providers, such as Curalate, to partner and bring innovative solutions to brands.
Do you consider Pinterest more “brand-friendly” or “advertising friendly” than other social networks?
We consider Pinterest to be one of the most “product-friendly” social networks around. Rather than emphasizing interactions with brands, Pinterest emphasizes interactions with products and content, which is far more revealing about consumer interests.
With the constant re-pinning of content — sometimes without a link back to the original site — how can brands ensure they are capitalizing on the social sharing related to their brand?
Brands will need to invest in visual analytics tools to understand how its imagery and creative work builds brand awareness and is shared, even if the images don’t link back to the brand directly. Visual analytics platforms do not rely upon URL matching to determine a relationship between images and brands. Instead, Curalate relies upon actually recognizing images. As a result, brands can continue to capitalize on images that are shared and discovered on image-centric sites like Pinterest.
What does the future of Curalate look like? Do you have plans to expand into other platforms or to build additional features?
Curalate wants to power analytics and engagement tools across the visual web. While we are starting with Pinterest, we have always believed that our goal is to help brands and consumers form more meaningful relationships across visual networks.
Apu Gupta is the CEO and co-founder of Curalate, the most comprehensive solution for brands that want to measure, monitor and grow their Pinterest presence.
Curalate reveals what consumers care about at a product level, enabling brands to form more relevant connections with their consumers. Curalate is currently in use by over 500 brands, including CPG companies such as Kraft Foods, consumer magazines such as Real Simple, retailers such as Neiman Marcus and ecommerce companies such as Warby Parker.
Prior to Curalate, Apu worked in retail and technology. Apu built the second largest drugstore chain in India as the COO and CMO of MedPlus Health Services, served on the interim management team of Peracon, a provider of software for the commercial real estate industry, and was in sales and marketing roles at WebEx Communications from their Series A financing through their IPO. Apu has an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a MBA from the Wharton School of Business.
Tarah Benner is the associate editor of The Agency Post, where she edits content, researches new technology and writes on industry trends. She's a runner, rower and avid blogger who enjoys curling up on the couch with good pizza and a movie. Her experience includes copywriting, content marketing, digital publishing and writing for the web. You can connect with her on Twitter @TarahBenner or on LinkedIn.