Imonomy Raises $400K Seed For Its Visual Semantic Software That Adds Relevant Photos To Publishers’ Websites, Monetised With Ads

Imonomy, an Israeli startup which makes software that analyses webpages and automatically inserts relevant, copyright-free images to accompany the content, has closed a $400,000 seed round from a group of angel investors. Investors include Inon Axel, former CEO of Kasamba (acquired by LivePerson for $40m), Liron Rose, cofounder of AfterDownload (acquired by ironSource for $28m), and Itai Levitan and Tal Shaked, partners at AfterDownload.

Imonomy said it will be using the new seed funding for product development and initial marketing and sales activities.

The startup was founded in the middle of last year by Oren Dror and Amit Halawa who previously held senior R&D and engineering positions at Yedda, an online Q&A service that was acquired by TechCrunch’s parent company AOL, back in 2007.

Imonomy targets its software at smaller-sized web publishers who have a pool of online content but don’t necessarily have the means to spice it up with illustrations — either lacking the production staff to spend the time hunting down royalty free images or the licensing money to pay to display copyrighted images. Imonomy says its semantic software is being used by more than 500 medium-sized websites (with up to 10 million monthly impressions) at present, including AOL Answers and Articles Base.

Imonomy’s software scans web content to figure out relevant images to serve up from its database of copyright-free images, and also determines the optimal place to position them on the page to improve user engagement. Inserted images support hover over links to other articles and also displaying ads, giving publishers (and Imonomy) a way to monetise the added eyecandy. It’s effectively a more aesthetic version of inline text link ads.

“The idea behind Imonomy is that publishers of content-heavy web sites need to tools to help their sites be visibly attractive,” the startup tells TechCrunch. “High quality copyright-free images are hard to come by and the time and effort required to locate such pictures is a hassle. Imonomy created its content enrichment and monetization system to automate this process in order to help publishers save time, improve user engagement and create monetization opportunities.”

Here’s how it describes its system on its website:

Our database contains millions of images that cover every possible topic. Our system scans your webpage, finds the best fitting image and automatically insert them into the published page. Thus making content more interesting and informative. Our technology brings our customers greater user engagement and lower bounce rates, which has been in proven to result in significantly increased revenues. imonomy also creates intelligent links between pages, which encourages visitors to easily navigate to additional relevant content. The visual semantic engine can be implemented easily on any website, and we also provide a free API that expands the functionality and the systems abilities.

In terms of competition, Imonomy concedes there are “numerous content enrichment tools” out there — name-checking the likes of OutBrain, Zemanta and GumGum — but argues that its approach is unique because it’s bundling “content enrichment and monetization opportunities in a single automated process to publishers for free”.

It’s not charging for use of its technology, instead it has a freemium model, tied to the ads that are inserted along with the images — sharing this revenue with its publisher customers so also taking a cut itself. Its revenue-sharing percentage depends on the size of the publisher and the volume of traffic on its website. But for larger sites with more impressions it takes a lower percentage than for smaller, less well visited sites. The startup added that it expects to be profitable by the end of the year.

An example of an added image plus ad powered by Imonomy’s engine is shown below: