Advertising startup TripleLift  wants to make ads more engaging to the public. Its technology is designed to help advertisers embrace “the visual Web.” That’s the company’s term for the rise of visual media on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
In other words, consumers have gotten used to seeing appealing images on social media and other sites. Ads need to offer similar visual interest, according to TripleLift.
How TripleLift’s Visual Advertising Works
TripleLift identifies the images that your business owns, that have already gained attention by the public. It then turns them into ad units. The idea is that if a particular image gets attention on a social platform, it will be more likely to gain attention in advertisements, too.
Dubbed the Trending Units program, it involves scanning your brand’s images that you’ve shared on your website, blog and social feeds. Then it scans the Web to see which of those images have been featured on blogs and websites. It also monitors your brand’s content on different social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other sites.
TripleLift then deciphers which images are driving the most engagement and attention from the public. That can be re-pins on Pinterest or those images featured the most on other social media sites combined. Those images are then plugged into “visual” online ad units — engaging ads that can come across more like sponsored content than hard-sell messages.
For example, let’s take a clothing line. The clothing company shares some of its images on its blog and Facebook page. Pretty soon others share those images and are pinning them on Pinterest. The most popular images that drive engagement — such as a lot of re-pins, comments and likes — could be pulled into ads.
More Engaging Ads Than Traditional Banners
Ads don’t have to be standard banner ads. They can be more engaging, according to TripleLift. These ads may appear “in stream” on various social platforms and websites (i.e., integrated with the stream of content rather than relegated to the header or sidebar). The ads are designed to seem like sponsored content marketing than ads. CEO Eric Berry recently explained the difference on the company blog:
To be content marketing, there must not be a direct pitch or sales call to action. Instead, the consumer must derive some degree of enjoyment or satisfaction from the content. For example, instead of showing “20% off on Nike shoes!”, a brand engaging in content marketing would show an interesting photo of the shoes in action, perhaps mid-dunk, with the logo prominently featured. Naturally, this requires more finesse in the production of the creative.
TripleLift also has a “Social Amplification” feature that adds social sharing options right into ad units. This can include a “Pin It” button on the ad. Consumers can pin the ad’s image to their Pinterest boards, citing the ad’s source.
The New York City-based startup was formed in 2012 and has already worked with some big names like Gucci, Nikon and HP. TripleLift got a $2.1 million seed-funding round led by True Ventures  and iNovia Capital  late last year. The Next Web called it a startup “worth keeping an eye on .”