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How Google Vision is transforming visual strategy for DMOs (and why we’re on the front lines)

What’s my favorite thing about being a CEO?

The fact that, with the right combination of vision, timing and luck, you get to spearhead an industry revolution. A revolution that will make the old way of doing things look as quaint as a horse and buggy.

When I started CrowdRiff with my cofounder Abhi, social media was just becoming mainstream. Brands were struggling to figure out what to do with the explosion of content that their users, customers, and everyday people were creating – like blog posts, photos and videos.

Seeing that struggle, we came up with a plan to transform and simplify the way brand marketers could find user-generated content on social media, and put it to strategic use on their websites, in their ads, and on their social feeds. That plan became CrowdRiff; a platform designed to help brands aggregate great content created by their audience, secure the rights to it, and use those images to tell their stories.

We knew we were onto something when our customer base grew 400% in one year, and we closed a round of funding with investors we’d long admired.

The reality is marketers have been sitting on a visual content goldmine

Today, the average brand has hundreds, if not thousands, of visual assets at their disposal on social media. A quick search on Instagram for #nike turns up over 46 million posts. And that’s just one platform! Even a smaller business like one of Toronto’s most popular ice cream stands has over 56,000 photos of their ice cream on Instagram.

Add to that all the photos brand marketers have commissioned themselves – like product photography, customer photography, staff photos, etc. – and there is an incredible rich library of content that marketers can use to tell better brand stories.

But there were 2 problems that were still preventing marketers from tapping in:

Problem #1: Photos stashed here, there, and everywhere

We talked to marketers, and almost all of them said: “We have tons of professional photos, and photos we’ve manually saved from social media… but we’re not sure where most of them are.”

Thousands of their images were scattered across folders, Google Drive, Dropbox, team member’s phones, etc. No one knew where, or how, to find what they were looking for.

Problem #2: Uploading and manually tagging images is the ultimate time waster

Having photos all in one place is good. But uploading and organizing them is a process that can take hours, even days according to some of our clients. The minutia of uploading and tagging photos — a.k.a. the most frustrating, boring, time-suck task handled by interns and Junior Account Managers everywhere — forces many brands to just give up, and store their photos “shoebox-style”.

Even if you have the resources to label and file your photos (which honestly, most companies don’t) it is nearly impossible to capture all the relevant details to make that photo findable in the future. Today you might call a photo “woman in kayak.jpg”, but tomorrow you might be looking for an image showing reflections on a lake… and that great photo will get overlooked.

Fortunately there’s now a solution, and a revolution, for those two common problems.

Enter: the brilliance of AI, and Google Cloud Vision

AI or Artificial Intelligence is no longer something in the distant horizon. Nor is it just about adding bots to your chat. We see AI as having the potential to completely change the marketing toolkit, especially when it comes to visual content.

While this technology would have taken us years to develop on our own, Google was way ahead of us. They recently launched a jaw-droppingly-fast AI tagging technology called Google Cloud Vision – a technology they’re currently sharing with select partners around the world (including CrowdRiff).

Now, our partnership with Google Cloud Vision will transform the way marketers manage their visual content.

We jumped on the chance to team up with Google, and put their groundbreaking algorithm to work. As a result, we’re launching the world’s smartest end-to-end visual content platform.

We introduced it on our blog a couple of weeks ago, and I’m so proud of what we’ve built.

Remember that Problem #1, scattered visual assets? CrowdRiff has expanded our platform to create the first ever visual asset manager that organizes all of your images (both your professional/owned and user-generated photos) in one easy-to-search place your entire team can access from anywhere.

As for Problem #2, the endless struggle to upload, tag, and stay organized? With Google Vision’s Artificial Intelligence technology seamlessly woven into our platform, marketers can upload and tag thousands of photos in seconds flat… instead of hours.

Here’s where it gets really cool: Google Cloud Vision’s image recognition and classification features identify any objects, words, and landmarks in each photo; tagging them all instantly. Powered by the same technologies behind Google Photos, it can recognize anything from flowers, food, and animals, to local landmarks, phrases, and more.

The AI is fast. It’s seamless. And it’s going to alter the way brands hold onto their leading edge in visual influence.

It’s as cool to watch as it is to experience. You can see a sneak below, but to really see its magic, schedule a personalized walkthrough with us:


Why did we do this? Because a picture can say a thousand words.

We all know the stats. Visual content is 40x more likely to get shared (source), and receives 94% more views than content without an image attached (source).

The right visual can bring your message to life, whether you are talking about a stunning travel destination or the best BBQ joint in town. Photos matter internally too; as the images you use in presentations and memos help grab the attention of your team, and keep them engaged.

With CrowdRiff’s new platform + Google’s awesome AI, you’ll be able to:

  • Upload all of your photos in minutes – both pulling from images your users post in social media, and the professional photos that have been sitting in folders for way too long.
  • Automatically tag them using Google Vision’s algorithm in seconds – that means no more intern or accounts manager spending hours of precious time uploading images they might not be able to find again.
  • Make them all available to search, instantly – that means  everyone in your organization can find the right photo, every time, in seconds flat. How cool is that?
  • Share them with your audience and colleagues all over the world – and level up your brand’s Visual Influence potential, so you can share more of what you do with the world, and stand out as a leader in your industry.

With this technology behind us, we can change the way brands everywhere harness the power of their user-generated content, and turn their advertising and promotion strategies into authentic experience that make an impact, and share their story with the world.

The revolution will be photographed tweeted, Instagrammed, and shared on Facebook. Come join us, and see what we’ve got cooking.