Olapic, which helps brands boost sales with user-generated images from social media, has raised $15 million in new funding.
Olapic aggregates images submitted by users on various social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Then, using a curation algorithm and human editors, Olapic identifies which images are best suited to specific use-cases for each brand.
Felix Capital led the Series B round, with participation from Unilever Ventures, Fung Capital, Longworth Venture Partners and Michael Lazerow.
“When you look at most e-commerce sites, 80 percent or even 90 percent of the time you’re going to see a white background picture of the product,” says Olapic founder Pau Sabria. “Obviously if you use user-generated photos, then you have a much more contextualized picture of what that product actually looks like.”
Co-opting content from consumers benefits brands far beyond saving them the time and money associated with hiring a crew and staging photo shoots.
Olapic’s algorithm tracks 46 different signals to determine which photos drive the highest engagement and conversion rate, and it feeds the results back into its curation engine to make it smarter over time. Sabria says it’s been able to prove that realistic images translate into higher sales.
Modern furniture brand West Elm, for instance, found that consumers express more interest in buying products when pets are featured in the photos — so much so that they’ve started staging their own photo shoots with cats and dogs included, Sabria tells me.
And consumers seem to be more than willing to have their photos featured by brands. Sabria says that 70 percent of consumers say yes when asked for permission to use their photos, and that the average reply contains 2.4 exclamation marks.
“If you look at your Instagram feed or Pinterest page, when brands start to inject advertising, it looks a little bit intrusive,” says Frederic Court of Felix Capital. “There’s a dire need for brands to create pictures as authentic and engaging as what you see from your friends and the people you follow.”
This is only getting more important as social networking sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter incorporate “buy it now” features.
Olapic is currently being used by more than 200 brands, including Calvin Klein, West Elm and Target.
“With the rise of the visual web, the brands that rise are going to be those that generate the most compelling and biggest amount of visual content,” says Sabria. “In five years time, we will all wonder how we ever relied so heavily on stock photography to sell products.”