Their image analyzing technology could give marketers more insights than Facebook for smarter targeting
London-based image processing startup Pixoneye announced on Wednesday the close of their Series A funding round, bringing in £2.4 million in new capital.
The two month-long round was led by Wharton Asset Management’s ZenInvest. Marketing and advertising accelerator Collider and global telecommunications corporate Telefonica, both of whom had previously invested in Pixoneye, also participated in the round that brought the young startup to a total of just under £3 million raised overall.
Pixoneye was co-founded in 2014 by Ofri Ben Porat and Nadav Tal-Israel. With offices in London and Ramat Gan, they launched their company in 2015 with the goal of providing marketers with unprecedented insights into their users and customers.
The company has developed an SDK that clients can add to their apps that analyzes a user’s photos on their phone, drawing out data points to gain an understanding of who they are to build a profile. Note though that while the photo is being examined for details, the apps never actually “see the photo,” helping to maintain privacy.
If marketers are interested in age, gender, marital status, etc, then they can tell the SDK to ask the phone to look for those key data points in the photos.
“One of the ways that Pixoneye is different from other players in the market is that our technology allows any app to gain the same segmentation capability as Facebook,” Ben Porat tells Geektime. “By integrating our technology into their app they get access to over 100 characteristics about each user that can truly augment their customer experience within the app. We use deep learning image processing technology to allow us to use different data points on the device.”
Once the client has these data points, they can target users of their apps with much more directed advertising like sending offers through an email or notification on the app.
For example, let’s say that Expedia had embedded the Pixoneye SDK in their app to better understand their users. If there are photos of a 31-year-old guy and his wife who were on a trip to Rome last year, then it would build a profile that takes the person’s gender, age, apparent marital status, and choice of leisure activities into account and send marketing emails or other kinds of outreach to that user offering deals on flights for two to Italy or Amsterdam.
While it may feel at first disconcerting to know that an app is looking through your personal photos, learning about you in order to send you offers, there are a couple of key points worth considering that make this technology a lot less controversial than it might otherwise sound. First off, if you are using services like Facebook, Android, Instagram, or plenty of other popular apps on your phone, then you have already given these companies permission to access your photos and use them to make you more attractive to advertisers.
Looking to actually protect user data while providing value to advertisers, all these profiles are kept anonymous. Perhaps more importantly, all the data that their technology learns about a user is analyzed and kept on the phone. This is an important step in keeping the user’s information from being resold to other parties.
Taking a step back, Pixoneye appears to be a win-win for marketers and users. So much of marketing is spray and pray, hoping that you will hit enough to justify the effort. If a picture is really worth a thousand words, then experienced marketers should be able to take these data points and actually create useful campaigns that are relevant. From the user side, if many of our apps are already peeking at our photos, isn’t it better to have some protections in knowing that this technology does not see your pics, risking exposure?
As a consumer, I like receiving offers for things that I might have sought out on my own. If the ad is relevant, based on real data about me, then I want to see it. This is a far better alternative than receiving ads that I have absolutely no interest in, and was probably sent to the rest of the people on their general mailing list. If the offer is coming from a company that I like enough to have their app on my phone, then I probably don’t mind hearing from them.