Tumblr is partnering with Ditto Labs to help the photo-analytics start-up track brand logos that show up in user posts.
At the moment, Tumblr is positioning the deal as purely research-based. “At this time, there are no advertising implications for Tumblr,” a company spokeswoman said on Monday. Rather, she described the tie-up as a Tumblr “firehose partnership,” which gives Ditto access to the roughly 130 million photos that Tumblr users upload every day.
The point is “to help [Ditto’s] clients understand visual conversations happening around their brands,” she said.
The partnership represents a coup for Cambridge, Mass.-based Ditto Labs, which recently raised about $2 million from Cue Ball Capital, Stage 1 Ventures, and a number of industry notables, like John Battelle and Mike Sheehan, CEO of The Boston Globe.
Built by a team of MIT-trained computer scientists, Ditto’s visual search engine attempts to make sense of the millions of photos posted to social-media sites.
“We’re able to find brand logos and patterns inside of public photos shared on social media,” David Rose, Ditto’s CEO, said on Monday. “We can also tell if people are smiling or not in a picture, as well as the type of environment a person is in.”
Ditto also helps clients identify top brand affinities and relevant influencers in the photo-dominated social media ecosystem.
Since dropping about a $1 billion on Tumblr, last year, Yahoo has made a number of efforts to start monetizing the social network.
This past June, Yahoo announced plans to begin pulling ads from Tumblr directly into the portal’s own properties. The plan was to run Tumblr’s sponsored post ads on Yahoo’s owned-and-operated sites, including Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Beauty and Yahoo Tech. The Tumblr ads are being sold through the Gemini ad marketplace -- Yahoo’s main platform for buying search and native ads.
Despite such efforts, however, analysts remain skeptical about Tumblr’s own revenue-generating potential “Monetization on Tumblr seems mostly elusive … so far,” Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group, wrote in a note released just before Yahoo reported second-quarter earnings, last month.
More troubling still, Tumblr doesn’t appear to be growing, according to recent comScore figures.
While its mobile monthly visitors increased from 19.8 million in June 2013 to 25.7 million in June 2014, desktop traffic declined from 36.1 million to 23.3 million, year-over-year. As such, according to comScore, Tumblr’s unduplicated, cross-platform audience fell from 46.6 million in June 2013 to 43 million in June 2014.