Photo Sharing App EyeEm Eyes Up Revenue Model After Passing 1M Downloads

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Arguably, the boat has already sailed for photo sharing and discovery apps, but that isn’t stopping EyeEm from pushing on regardless. The Berlin-based startup, which has apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, has reached somewhat of a milestone, claiming 1 million app downloads. Meanwhile, TechCrunch has learned that the company has signed on two big brand partners for its “photo missions” feature — a sign, perhaps, that the burgeoning startup may have found that elusive revenue stream.

In addition to hitting the 1 million download mark, EyeEm’s growth is said to be at around 30% month on month, a figure I’m told spans downloads, registered users, number of photos uploaded and, most significantly, monthly active users. That’s dwarfed by the gangbuster growth experienced by Instagram, of course. But, a little over a year after launch, it isn’t too shabby either.

However, EyeEm may be seeing signs of something that Instagram never had: a business model via its “photo missions” feature which sees users asked to go out and take photos related to a specific theme. Those missions have the potential to be sponsored as brands look to get in on the “conversation marketing” action — and TechCrunch has learned from sources close to the company that EyeEm has indeed secured its first few big brand tie-ups from the likes of Red Bull, and airline Lufthansa.

The idea is to leverage EyeEm’s highly engaged community who can be locally or demographically targeted, something that is of interest to marketers as they look to exploit the potential of social media to build a community around a brand and its attributes or a particular event. So, for example, Lufthansa could run a campaign — sorry, “mission” — about a jet set weekend in Paris or Berlin. Or Red Bull could do something extreme sports-related.

Whether or not EyeEm users will welcome brands invading their community remains to be seen, however, although I’m already resigned to seeing otherwise smart people ‘Like’ brand after brand on Facebook, so anything’s possible.

Moving forward, it’s not hard to see how these “missions” could become a call for a specific image to be used outside of EyeEm, perhaps in a wider marketing campaign. Thus turning EyeEm users into an on-demand competitor to the likes of Getty Images. Should it go down this route, however, the company would be up against a plethora of startups who are trying to disrupt the stock photography industry by leveraging camera phones and User-Gernerated Content, such as Sweden’s Foap, for example, which targets so-called iPhoneographers.