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The visual web is here. People discover, share  and buy based on what they see online. Photo are fast becoming the number one way people connect with brands. An evolution smart companies like Nike and Red Bull have fast understood, pouring millions into photography. But thanks to a variety of photo tech start-up, it is now easy and affordable for smaller brands to take full advantage of the visual web.
We have compile a short introductory list for those who would like to get their feet wet but do not know where to start.

The curators:

These companies offer brands invaluable access to photos generated by the crowd. They  source large image database like Instagram to find your products photographed in real life situations  by your customers. Selecting and publishing the  images is then an easy and simple process via their integrated platforms.  The result is a 6 to 12 % increase in closing rates.

Companies: Olapic, Curalate, Chute

Best for :  E-commerce site, sales conversion, social media monitoring
Not for : service companies,  no e-commerce site

Chute claims 25% increase in conversion

The providers:

Photo agencies have been around for a while. However, a new generation has grown in the last 10 years taking full advantage of the “everyone is a photographer” generation. The result is more authentic, fresher images with less of a stocky style. Constantly refreshed by new content, they offer brands an unlimited source of content for any type of usage, collaterals, posters, ad campaign and social media posting. They are easy to use, along with  very affordable pricing and generous rights. A subscription to one of these is a must have.

Companies : Pond5, Shutterstock,  500px

Pond5 offers a wide variety of content

Best for : Brand recognition, ad campaigns, Content Marketing, Social media
Not for : Photographers

The producers:

Sometimes the image you’re looking for is just not there. Or it is not current. Or not specific enough. Why not tap into the creative genius of the crowd and let it take a picture for you?  Write a brief and let photographers compete to send you their best images. You only pay for the one you decide to use. From very affordable ( around $5 to $10) who tap in the crowd to the more expensive ( $250 and up) who deliver only professional images, there is a wide range to choose from. The rights are generous and the originality of the images make you look like you have your own private photo department.

Companies :  Foap, Scoopshot, EyeEm, ImageBrief

Best for : Social Media, Ad campaigns, Content marketing, news
Not for  : ~

ImageBrief offers brands the possibility to post image requests and get matches sent to them

The taggers:

Made popular by the now defunct Stipple, image tagging is the next big thing in on-line advertising. Everywhere you product appears, a non intrusive tag can pop up on user interaction and show a description, pricing with a link to purchase it. Every image on the internet can become your storefront. Usually priced by CPA or CPE, it is a fast growing segment that can reap huge benefit, especially since it is still new and hasn’t  yet suffered user boredom. Engagement rates are very high ( 70%) and CTR are around 7%. A must try.

Companies : Znaptag, Thinglink, Kiosked

Best for : Brands with  e-commerce , celebrity endorsed products, fashion, furniture, highly visible, small items

Not for : mom and pop shops, start-ups, luxury items

Taggers make shopping for items easier . Thinglink in action


The banner makers:

High on Youtube’s ability to monetize content by having a pop up banner appear at the bottom of the video, some companies have brought that model to photos everywhere. As viewers look at pictures on their favorite publication, a banner ad appears with related content. While a bit spammy – the ad is not always relevant to the content- it offers the ability to stick a real ad within photographs.

Companies :  GumgumZnaptag

Gugum offers Youtube like banner ads at the bottom of images

Best for : Brands awareness, specific timed campaigns, publicize events
Not for : e-commerce,  rare items, luxury

Content trackers:

Want to know where your products appear, who sees them and how. Using logo matching, these photo tech can locate your product in the far reaches of the internet, social media included, and let you discover how your company is being portrayed.  Essential to understand your presence online , see what works and why, they are the up and coming solution for anyone who want to master content marketing. Usually priced by monthly subscription, they are fast becoming a must have for agile marketing departments.

Companies : Zample, Ditto

Zample has automated brand logo detection

Best for : everyone
Not for : no one

The story-tellers:

While individual snapshots can be a great carrier of your brand’s message, nothing beats storytelling to capture a faithful audience. For content marketers, being able to tell a story around a product is key to a deep connection with a brand. These apps allow for the simple  creation and sharing of beautiful photo essays . Some even say that they will one day surpass single photo social media sites like Instagram in popularity. Time will tell. For now, they are an important tool in any brands storytelling arsenal.

Companies : Exposure, Steller,

Screen grab of Exposure

Best for : luxury items, brands with narrative, content marketing
Not for : volume based brands, commodities

The social media:

Last but not least and certainly the best known, all the top social media sites are photo-centric. For a brand not to take advantage of them is suicide, especially as they can be used for free.  All have or are about to have paid campaign options and the result show great promises. Probably still the best bang for your buck for now until your audience moves on somewhere else. Since most of the companies mentioned above work on social media, it is certainly a solid foundation for those who wish to master the visual web. As long as it is not the only solution used. With 58 times more engagement than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement than Twitter, Instagram is the clear winner here, although engagement do not guarantee sales conversion.

Companies : Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook

Best For : Everyone


The photo tech world is in full evolution and new interesting companies appear all the time ( one of the reason for this publication) so a curious mind is key to keeping up with the possibilities. Like social media platform, not every solution is for everyone and your brand can explode with one while having no results with another. Because it is so new, trial and error is the best approach, as well as continued reading about what works for others.

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