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Image engagement startup Thinglink moves to New York

Prod­uct man­agers on the look­out for up-and-com­ing ideas in the tech space might wel­come news that New York City is about to have a new res­i­dent: ThingLink, a start­up cur­rent­ly based in Helsin­ki which lets users tag dif­fer­ent fea­tures inside an image with links to video, music, notes, etc. It’s just bagged a hand­some $2 mil­lion in addi­tion­al fund­ing and plans to invest the mon­ey in relo­cat­ing to the Big Apple, where a new sales team is already being built (cus­tomer sup­port will also be expand­ed in New York).

Phys­i­cal to virtual

The idea for ThingLink was hatched by Finland’s Ulla Engeström in 2008. She want­ed to link phys­i­cal-world objects to online con­tent and began by sewing spe­cial phys­i­cal tags to cloth­ing and oth­er objects. The tags could then be acti­vat­ed to reveal con­tent with NFC-enabled mobile phones. That’s where the name of the com­pa­ny she even­tu­al­ly found­ed in 2010 would come from. Engeström took a sug­ges­tion from her friend Eric Wahlfloss (co-founder of Sound­Cloud) and called the NFC-acti­vat­ed tags “thing links”. The can­ny prod­uct man­ag­er will prob­a­bly agree that every now and then, an impro­vised phrase can make a great com­pa­ny moniker.

Grad­u­al­ly, ‘thing links’ evolved from phys­i­cal tags on real objects to vir­tu­al tags in dig­i­tal images. At its pub­lic launch in 2010, allowed users to add dig­i­tal con­tent to online images and then spread them across the internet.

Gath­er­ing momentum

Since 2010, it’s attract­ed some seri­ous inter­est from brands, busi­ness­es and dig­i­tal mar­keters and has worked with brands like Brit­ney Spears (yup, she’s a brand as well as a per­son), Mer­cedes-Benz, New York Mag­a­zine, The Wash­ing­ton Post, Vogue, Home Depot and Xerox (to name but a few). It now has over 200,000 pub­lish­ers on its client list, includ­ing 10 of the top 50 inter­na­tion­al brands and four of the top ten newspapers.

Lifestyle brands, Engeström says, achieve click-through rates of about 10 per­cent on ThingLink, but music comes out on top. As she explains, “We have not seen a pop­u­lar cam­paign from a pop­u­lar [music] brand which would not see an over 50 per­cent click-through rate. Fans love dis­cov­ery, and if there’s a chance there’s exclu­sive con­tent hid­den in an image from a band, they’ll hov­er; they’ll over­turn every stone.”

Don’t ya just wish you were prod­uct man­ag­er there?

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