TC50: Udorse lets you tag your photos with product endorsements

Turn your Facebook album into a Wheaties box or Armani ad.

That’s the premise behind Udorse, a new company that debuted at the TechCrunch50 trade show in San Francisco. Udorse lets you tag personal photos with product endorsements or “Udorsements.” The company pays you a cut, based on clickthrough rates.

Udorse’s technology works by letting you select an area in a photo. It then prompts you for information about the brand or company. You enter in comments, a URL to the company’s site and then share it with friends. You can either keep the earnings or donate them to a charity.

The company has deals with American Apparel and Armani Exchange so far, and says it will work with mom-and-pop businesses or one-person Etsy shops. The startup says it leverages existing social networking ties and photos to drive measurable results and revenue. It’s coming to Facebook, Twitter and as a widget for personal blogs.

The startup says it battles tag spam through user-driven moderation like on Craigslist. If someone puts up a tag that you don’t like, you can flag it. After a certain number of flags, they can take down accounts.

Udorse’s concept would violate the spirit of Facebook’s recently updated statement of rights and responsibilities. The social network just moved to ban using your status updates for commercial gain. It didn’t explicitly talk about photos, but this could easily fall into the same line of thinking. Udorse-altered photos are hosted outside of Facebook’s albums to get around restrictions.

Investor feedback

picture-231Marissa Mayer, Google: Loves the idea. Has a lot of hooks with the brands and distribution. A big piece of this is the user experience. Also recommends using it for electronics

Tony Hsieh, Zappos: I think it would be weird for you as a friend to get paid to tell me to look like you. Maybe I don’t want to dress like my friends, but if there’s someone else that likes the same brands, maybe there’s some way of matching up.

Marc Andreessen: Is there an anti-product placement foundation I can donate my earnings to?


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