Brands have increasingly been looking to take advantage of the trend towards visual social networks like Pinterest. Philadelphia-based Curalate provides a marketing platform to do just that, and the company launched out of private beta in May 2012 to provide an analytics tool companies use to track engagement on Pinterest. Today Curalate announced the release of a new promotions platform to help companies run, track, and engage their Pinterest followers through contests. The company currently works with over 600 brands and agencies, including Urban Outfitters, Michael Kors, Real Simple, and Better Homes.
“We started this company largely because we noticed a transition happening to a more visual web, increasingly what’s happening is that people are communicating about brands specifically with pictures rather than words,” said CEO and co-founder Apu Gupta in an interview. “What we came out with initially was a product that provided visual analytics for the visual web…since then, we’ve grown with the needs of our brands, so what we do today is really a full marketing suite for the visual web.”
Typically brands run contests on Pinterest through ‘Pin to win’ promotions, where Gupta says they would ask users to go through a process that involved pinning pictures of their products, using a hashtag, naming their board, and then emailing them to enroll, resulting in a high drop off rate. With Curalate’s platform, brands can streamline the process, requiring a user to only create a Pinboard directly from the promotions page, and enter their email address. They can then measure, monitor, and engage with the participants from the dashboard to get insights on what products are being shared and more importantly, who’s sharing them.
“Because at our core we can do tracking really well, we built a promotions module on top of an analytics foundation. So we can reduce all of those friction points,” Gupta said. “In our private trails, we’ve had 250,000 entrants on these contests, 30 million impressions generated from these contests, and driven site referral traffic anywhere from 500-700 percent,” Gupta added.
The company offers its platform for a subscription fee that’s variable depending on the requirements of their campaigns, which can range from simple brand awareness campaigns to more thematic contests to drive user engagement and creativity.
Given the popularity of the socially curated visual platform, a number of companies have entered the market to provide brands and agencies with analytics tools for Pinterest. BetaKit covered Toronto-based Pinerly earlier in the year, which provides a dashboard that allows users to schedule Pins with follow/unfollow controls and the ability to manage multiple Pinterest accounts. There are also services like Repinly, Pinfluencer, and Pinpuff that take an influencer and engagement score approach to help brands spot trending topics, Pins and influential individuals. However, Gupta notes that Curalate’s image matching technology takes a lot of upfront link building or URL and keyword tracking out of the equation for the brands it works with.
“We’re the only company that is taking a visual approach to a visual web, that entails people engaging with imagery, and when they do that, there’s not a lot of meta data, not a lot of text, and so your traditional social media tools haven’t really thought how to keep up with that,” Gupta added. “They’re still approaching it from a traditional mentality of let me examine a URL or keyword, and it’s simply not reliable.”
Gupta also noted that the reason they didn’t name their company to reflect their focus is because he believes the technology powering Curalate’s platform could be used to provide analytics and engagement tools for other image-based and socially curated platforms like Tumblr, Polyvore, and The Fancy, which just raised $26 million this week. While focusing on Pinterest now means Curalate is putting all of its eggs in one basket, branching out to other networks down the road could be a way to build up an audience of brands who want to focus on image-based contests and analytics.