Scanning Social Images Can Improve Search Retargeting

Marketers stuck on using search targeting to determine consumer intent may want to rethink their strategy and pull in data from social media. A university professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) believes in the importance of taking a closer look at the content of photos that people post across social networks and the context around the images to remain more on target.

Vincent Oria, a computer science professor at NJIT and an expert on data mining and searchable multimedia databases, believes photo scanning software from the likes of Ditto Labs and other technology companies provides much more accurate targeting data than only traditional audience segments used in search retargeting. Earlier this month, media reports described ways to analyze what people like to drink and eat, as well as what they wear as a way to help brands locate logos on jackets or soda cans. It's about looking at the context in which these brands are being used.

Oria said that brands can also find similar connections on search engines, but the missing link becomes the dotted lines between friends. "On social media there's one person telling you another is a friend," Oria said. "We have some data we can trust from social media. You can try to deduce that information from search, but it becomes much more reliable in social media."

Learn the trends from social media and take the data to search to help enlarge the target of consumers, Oria said. This way brands can identify what customers want in photos of themselves and other people, places and things, and take the data across other media.

What are the privacy implications? "You can protect your posts on social media sites like Facebook -- otherwise anyone can see your photos, Oria said. "If the photos are unprotected they are public."

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