Marketers Tap into Photo Sharing Phenomenon

FilmLoop has signed advertisers like Purina, HP and TBS to create and sponsor photo slide shows on its recently launched desktop photo broadcasting tool.

FilmLoop allows consumers to create “loops” — a dynamic string of images that scrolls across a user’s desktop. Users can create the loop using photos from a digital camera, or those stored on their hard drive or on a photo-sharing site. A user can share a loop with friends and family, then update the photos in the loop — simultaneously updating the loop for all their friends and family.

Advertisers can purchase a photo ad placement that will appear between the user-generated loops, as well as alongside photos when they are clicked on and enlarged. The ad can link to a larger image, an audio or video file, or a Web page. Ads can be targeted by age, gender, or ZIP code — information collected from users when they download the application — or based on a profile created from other loops a user downloads.

FilmLoop staffers will sell all the ads themselves, initially for a flat fee, but likely on a CPM basis once traffic grows. It will also provide analytics to measure things like impressions and clickthroughs, and also track the viral spread of loops. The company was founded by Kyle Mashima, the former VP of strategy and acquisitions at Adobe Systems, and Prescott Lee, the former CEO of eCircles.com.

Besides creating loops, users can also subscribe to loops that have been shared by other consumers, or created by corporate sponsors. Several advertisers looking for a deeper brand presence have signed up to create their own loops, which consumers can add to their desktop from the FilmLoop network, Michael Samols, EVP of business development at FilmLoop, told ClickZ News.

Purina has a loop for its Incredible Dog Challenge, created and managed by its interactive agency of record Arc Worldwide. HP is planning to launch a loop to promote its new line of photo printers, and is also using it internally to create a loop tracing the history of the company for its anniversary celebration. TBS will offer a “Sex and the City” loop to promote its broadcasts of syndicated reruns of the series.

Hallmark Picture People will use FilmLoop to publicize its offline portrait studios and online photo stores. Twentieth Century Fox will create a loop for an upcoming film, possibly X-Men 3, which will be updated with behind-the-scenes footage from the movie set.

“We can provide a way for an advertiser to create a permanent channel on the user’s desktop. They can be used for branding, or send people back to their Web site,” Samols said.

Advertisers with their own content are most interested in using FilmLoop initially, but Samols expects that to change once the audience grows large enough to attract more advertisers on the user-generated loops.

Besides viral growth, FilmLoop hopes to grow its audience through promotions by advertisers, and through distribution agreements with key partners. The largest of these agreements is one with Photobucket.com, a photo hosting site heavily used by blog networks MySpace, LiveJournal and Xanga.

“This is an extremely viral group that’s already shown that it’s comfortable with digital images. They’ll be a great partner for us,” Samols said.

Another significant partner will be eBay. FilmLoop is developing a pilot to launch next month that will allow users to add a loop based on an eBay Motors search, which is constantly updated and links directly to the auction. The company is also talking to several real estate companies to offer a similar service for their sites.

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