By: Nu Yang


As more images go viral online, publishers and their photographers have a harder time keeping track of where their images are being shared. Enter Stipple, a San Francisco-based company offering a free service that allows any brand or photographer to tag images with data that stays with the images wherever they go.

“Stipple creates a unique fingerprint filled with the photo’s metadata,” said vice president of images Paul Melcher. “That fingerprint is recognized wherever it’s published. If the information is stripped out of a photo, Stipple’s technology reassigns it, so the data is never lost.”

The United Kingdom recently passed the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act on orphan works, meaning any images found online without identifying information can be used, even commercially. Anyone using the work as an orphan has to show that a thorough search for the rights-holder was conducted. If a rights-holder can’t be found, the person who wishes to use an orphan work has to apply and pay for a license. Melcher said this same act is “hovering around” in the U.S.

Along with the metadata, Melcher said Stipple provides a wide variety of tags, including shopping links, embedded videos, maps and locations, and social media. To activate the information, hover your mouse over the dots in the image and a small window appears. Links and videos stay in the photo, so web traffic never leaves the original site. In mobile devices, just touch and tap the image to access the data.

Head of distribution Stephanie Palmer said what’s inside the photo is the core of Stipple’s business. She said many of the 7,500 publishers she works with view the data protection as a “security blanket.”

Another bonus for publishers is the opportunity to earn money through their images. With Stipple Shopping, consumers are able to explore, compare and purchase products in an image. Palmer said the brand and advertising aspect attracts publishers to Stipple.

Publishers also have access to an analytics dashboard that keeps track of which pieces of data are being clicked on the most and where the images are being shared. It’s also easy to integrate Stipple on their site. Just copy and paste a few lines of code and it’s ready to use.

By giving control back to their images, Palmer said Stipple provides publishers several benefits. “One, it drives revenue in an accurate and engaging fashion; two, it increases user engagement; and three, it increases traffic.”

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