Stipple Opens Its Image Tagging And Monetization Site To Everyone, Launches Stipple Viewer Plugin

Stipple is launching its public beta today, allowing anyone to try out its service, which is supposed to turn online pictures into “intelligent images”.

Stipple images can be tagged with links to anything that has a URL, whether it’s other images, videos, or just a citation for the website where a picture originated. One of the main selling points of a service like Stipple, as well as competitors like Luminate and ThingLink, is monetization — the ability to embed advertising or links to e-commerce. So for example, on Stipple you’ll find fashion photos full of links allowing you to buy the products featured in the image. Or pictures of food that link to the different ingredients.

The site used to be focused exclusively on letting advertisers tag editorial photos, but today’s launch marks its transformation into social image-sharing service for consumers too. You can follow other users, “like” their images, and browse the most popular pictures on the site.

And there are plenty of tags that go beyond commerce — they’re more informative or just fun. At the top of my Stipple feed right now, there’s a triumphant graduation photo that’s tagged (cheekily, one assumes) with another photo of a “F”-graded test. There’s also a photo of someone stretching, which is tagged with photos and instructions for related exercises.

stipple screenshot

Images can be uploaded directly to Stipple, imported from your website, blog, online store, or social network account. You also get analytics around each image, showing how many people viewed it and which pieces of content they interacted with.

Of course, the platform would be pretty limited if it just worked on the Stipple site, so Stipple photos are shareable and embeddable — CEO Rey Flemings says the company is “in the process of connecting every online photo back to its source.”

Right now, Stipple tags (and analytics) will work on a partner sites, on any site that embeds the image using the embed code, and for anyone who has installed the Stipple Viewer browser extension (more on that in a second). The company says it’s already working with 4,000 publishers who have enabled Stipple on their sites, and that those publishers “routinely” see engagement rates with the images that are 100 times the engagement rates of their display ads.

With the Stipple Viewer browser extension, you can see Stipple tags beyond the publisher network. So if you’re a brand, you can upload a Stipple-tagged photo to your Facebook account and know that at least some of your fans will see the links. As Stipple notes, this could be particularly useful on fashion-focused Pinterest, where all the details about a product, including a link to purchase, can be embedded right into an image.

Stipple has raised $7 million in funding from Floodgate, Relevance Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and others.