Visual is King

By Richard Lee, CEO of Netra, Inc. Richard will be speaking at Big Boulder 2017!

Consumers are taking more photos and videos than ever. With recent advances in technology, anyone can be a videographer or a photographer and feel like a professional.

As consumers, we love this. Documenting our daily lives on social media has become part of, or even the driving motivation, for seeking out new experiences. We have our photo albums on Facebook and take pride in our carefully-curated Instagram handles.

Followers and likes are the rewards for our efforts. We still use text-based captions and hashtags, but social media is becoming increasingly focused on the visual. It might be time to transition the old adage “content is king” to the more contemporary “visual is king.”

Images Capture Who We Are

The images we’re posting are chock full of information that goes beyond what we include in the captions or the hashtags. The context of the images and the objects and brands we engage with paint a much fuller picture of what we do and who we are. Our interests and our hobbies can be generalized into types of activities we enjoy, and that data is powerful.

This information has been traditionally found through things like Google searches and likes and follows on social media. This insight can be valuable too, but often doesn’t portray an up-to-date picture of a consumer’s interest. For instance, how many of us liked a brand on Facebook in college only to rarely follow them now?

This can be improved significantly by being able to “read” an image. For example: you’re a dog owner who loves to post about Fido. Your feed is filled with pictures of you and him at the dog park and going on hikes.

Sure, those images say you like animals and enjoy the outdoors, but what else does it say? It may show that you enjoy outdoor brands and value function over fashion. It may show that you’re interested in an all-natural dog food that focuses on its ingredients instead of fancy packaging.

All of this data is out there, but most brands aren’t aware of it and even fewer know how to pull such information.

The Power of Image Recognition

Companies and brands are in a constant battle for our attention and space on our screens. Intrusive advertisements are, well, intrusive, and the current technology behind the targeted ads embedded in our news feeds often ends up leaving consumers feeling creeped out, annoyed, or both.

But what if companies could tailor targeted ads in such a way that they feel like natural and useful suggestions for consumers

This is where Netra comes in. Our image recognition technology combs through the millions of photos that are openly shared online every day to harness valuable insights that bring brands closer to consumers.



Our technology gathers the valuable data in images that aren’t clearly communicated in captions, such as brand logos and objects, while also anonymously identifying age, gender and ethnicity of the people within the images. This allows for marketers to find deeper insights – such as when consumers are drinking Coke, and how and where they are enjoying it – without having to rely on traditional forms of tagging on social media, like hashtags.

With this “visual intelligence,” marketers can use image targeting to reach consumers who actually want to hear from the brand.

When looking to the future, I often tell friends and colleagues that the camera will replace the keyboard. Whether you look at social media, consumer electronics or your favorite news publication, it’s clear that more people prefer to consume information through images.

As platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter continue to reign supreme, we’ll see more and more brands make their way onto these platforms to reach consumers, and Netra will be there to provide the insights that will create valuable content from marketers.

With over 3.5 billion photos being shared on social media every day, it’s no question that visual is king. But as recent years have shown, we’ve only just hit the tip of the iceberg.

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