More Than 200,000 Photographers Have Participated In EyeEm’s “Missions” For Brands

Whenever a new social network or online community springs up, it seems pretty inevitable that brands will eventually try to build a presence there. Naturally, this can cause lots of handwringing and eye-rolling — that’s why emphatically ad-free social networks like Ello attract a lot of interest, but also seem rather quixotic.

So I was glad to get an update on what EyeEm is doing with Missions, a product where moneymaking and community-building seem to actually fit together. Perhaps that’s because, as noted elsewhere, EyeEm Missions can actually help its photographers make money, rather than just monetize their eyeballs and clicks.

Basically, Missions are a way for brands to crowdsource photos from the EyeEm community. For example, Mercedes Benz recently ran a Mission around the theme of “Elegance Everywhere,” while Uber’s Mission asked locals to capture their cities’ hidden gems. (We’ve previously written about Missions from Foursquare and the Huffington Post — which, like TechCrunch, is owned by AOL.)

Sönke Bullerdiek, EyeEm’s vice president of business development, told me that the company ran its first Mission in 2013, but didn’t start pursuing the program more seriously until last year. Since then, it has run more than 100 Missions, with 370,000 photos submitted by 220,000 contributors. Or if you want to focus on a typical Mission, Bullerdiek said they see 3,500 submissions from 2,000 contributors on average.

Things are growing more quickly, he added, since Missions became a prominent part of EyeEm’s navigation. (If you’ve got the app, it’s right there in the bottom bar, between the camera and the “Me” button.)

Beyond the numbers, what’s impressive is the quality of the photos themselves. Not only do they look great (at least in the Missions that Bullerdiek shared), but they’re also go beyond serving as straightforward promotional images. As you might guess from the fairly broad prompts, the winning photos tend to capture a wide range of subjects, and they’re rarely connected to the brand sponsoring the Mission in any overt way.

As for how EyeEm makes money, Bullerdiek noted that the company works closely with the brand to develop the Mission outlines, so it charges an undisclosed “set up and handling fee.” The brand can pay for the rights to the winning photos, with the money split 50-50 between the photographers and EyeEm. (Bullerdiek estimated that the price tag can be anywhere between $20 and $500, depending on how the image will be used.) And many of the contests include winner rewards, like Uber credits or a new camera.

The camera, by the way, is being offered as part of a Mission for Getty Images titled “Everyday Joy.” Yep, that’s a traditional stock photography company working with EyeEm, and in fact, the two companies have also partnered to create a curated EyeEm collection that’s available to Getty customers.

I spoke to Tom Hind, Getty’s senior director of creative content, about the partnership, which he said has resulted in “some gems” (to be clear, though, we spoke before the launch of the Everyday Joy Mission). As for how Getty might work with these kinds of photo communities moving forward, he said, “I don’t know what the future will hold.” However, he added that there’s “a nice synergy” between the large community that EyeEm has created and the clients and curation that Getty can provide.

“We’re very much interested in pushing at how stock imagery is perceived,” Hind told me.

For his part, Bullerdiek said he’s hoping to get more brands on-board this year. He’s also planning to add more localization features, so that Missions can be more targeted on a specific country or region.