Pinterest Analytics Service Curalate Raises $3M
Curalate has already done one thing right: Unlike competitors like Pinfluencer, PinReach and Pinerly (now Reachli), it doesn’t have “pin” in its name. In the big, bad world of building services on top of other social media platforms, having that measure of independence from the beginning seems like a good idea.
The Philadelphia-based company, which applies image recognition to track pictures posted on Pinterest on behalf of brands, has now raised $3 million in Series A funding led by NEA with First Round Capital and MentorTech Ventures (the three also provided seed funding for the company, back in 2011, when it was doing something completely different, an “Airbnb for parking and storage” called Storably).
Curalate’s investors, of course, aren’t putting more money in based on the name alone. They’re pleased to see that in the year since Curalate launched it has signed customers including the Grammys, Whole Foods and Gap.
Curalate provides both analytics and marketing tools. It tells brands which pinned content referred what traffic, and helps them run Pinterest contests.
CEO Apu Gupta says the company’s approach of using image recognition is better than those of keyword-based competitors, because only 10 percent of Pinterest posts include the name of a brand explicitly. Plus, as much as 48 percent of the most popular Pinterest pins are linked to expired pages on retailers’ sites.
“Our software reads the pixels in the image,” Gupta said. “We ignore the URLs, we ignore the words, and we say, let’s match up these images like a giant game of memory.”
Okay, but Pinterest itself just introduced commercial accounts in November and, at the time, the company’s platform manager, Cat Lee, told AllThingsD that the company definitely planned to go more deeply into analytics. The company also doesn’t have a clearly defined platform strategy or formal relationships with many of the people in its ecosystem, including Curalate. Isn’t competition from the platform itself a big risk?
Gupta and his new board member, Patrick Chung of NEA, had a few answers for that. First of all, if you look to Twitter as an example, even though it offers basic analytics, there has still been room for Radian6 and Buddy Media.
Secondly, as Chung put it, Curalate doesn’t just exist flat on Pinterest’s platform — it “creates a layer of data that doesn’t belong to anyone but Curalate and its customers.” And third, Gupta said, Curalate will soon integrate Instagram tracking and analytics.