Luminate CEO Bob Lisbonne Discusses the Power of Pictures and How We Interact with Them Online

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...February 23, 2012

If a picture is worth a thousand words, images should be recognized as leading conduits for online information sharing and advertising. Yet this has been anything but the case on the web, where algorithms determine advertisements through the use of text and wordy links and fails to capture the attention of most readers. Enter California-based Luminate, an image platform intent on proving the power of pictures and revolutionizing the way we interact with them online.

Luminate has been transforming publisher’s images into highly interactive, visually engaging performance drivers since 2008 (when it was formerly known as Pixazza). Today, the company announced the birth of its new Image App Store along with a $10.7 million Series C funding round. To get up to speed with the latest news from this exciting, feature-packed platform, we examine how Luminate helps publishers and users alike with insight from CEO Bob Lisbonne. 

WHAT: Luminate enables online publishers to turn stagnant images into compelling, interactive pieces with unobtrusive in-photo applications.  Using just a single line of java script, publishers can engage their audience, increase traffic and even add revenue by leveraging the power of images on their site. User experience grows with the ability to mouse over an image and readily share image details across major social platforms, gain information about items within images and even purchase relevant products from partnered brands.

WHY: By some estimates, online images have reached the lofty heights of 3 trillion in number. With continued growth projected as mobile images become more ubiquitous online, Luminate believes it is poised to be the leader in turning static images into richly interactive pictures as the value of online images is recognized and realized.

“There has been a huge explosion of images on the Internet and yet images have remained static while everything else has gone interactive,” CEO Bob Lisbonne told us via phone.  Recognizing the value of those images early on, Luminate has steadily amped up to dominate what they expect will be an explosive vertical.

HOW:  Luminate utilizes a unique combination of crowd-sourced experts and patent-pending algorithms to identify and curate images for a more complete, compelling user experience. Publishers choose from a wide range of applications found on Luminate’s new Image App Store that includes 11 new image apps ranging MP3 music clips from Amazon and Red Cross donations to YouTube movie trailers and Celebuzz Hollywood news. 

“Our Image App Store is the first of its kind, which is exciting,” Lisbonne tells us. “And we’re working on opening up the store to third party apps in the near future.” That signals additional applications are sure to roll out in the coming year, with an even broader variety of options for publishers to choose from to ensure they target their audience and define their goals accordingly.

From the user perspective, simply mousing over a Luminate-powered image offers them the ability to share a detail of a photo, purchase a similar product, discover relevant information pertaining to the image and more. The best part: Luminate is seamless and unobtrusive, intent on keeping the integrity of the images intact without convoluting them with a chunky user interface.

For example, Luminate’s Products in the Picture app details items within an image and links to the same (or similar) products online with a simple mouse roll-over from the user. While this app can be applied to retail purchases, it can also be leveraged for travel and tourism. That great picture of Hawaii’s North Shore suddenly becomes a means to find the best Hawaiian getaway package for a user. In turn, Luminate and the publisher can earn revenue from its advertising and commerce apps via CPCs and CPMs. 

WHO: CEO Lisbonne and co-founder James Everingham, company CTO, brought together an enviable, veteran ensemble of Silicon Valley talent from their shared experience at Netscape in the ‘90s and Everingham’s later work at LiveOps. There is arguably no team as savvy about web products and crowd-sourcing platforms as Luminate, an important early indicator to its investors about its long-term prospects. With today’s announced $10.7M Series C funding, Nokia Growth Partners joins CMEA Capital, August Capital, Google Ventures and Shasta Ventures all backing Luminate. 

THE SKINNY: “Luminate’s app store is a game changer,” CMEA Capital Partner Saad Khan told us via email. “There are trillions of images on the web and to date we’ve never been able to peer inside them.”

With some 7,000 publishers, 150 million monthly users and 30 billion image views per year, the platform also boasts a slew of notable publishing and brand partners including GAP, MSNBC, McDonalds and BestBuy. But don’t let those names scare you- the platform is free to use for any online publisher (provided you meet basic criteria in the application process). Luminate is fast becoming the single source for realizing a picture, even online, may indeed be worth a thousand words.

“By understanding the context of an image, Luminate is changing all that and unlocking new applications around images from monetization to deeper engagement. They’re literally revealing the deeper potential of the Internet.”

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