GumGum announces Image Toolbar to share images with built-in ads

GumGum wants to add value to every image on the internet. The startup announced a few months back that it can automate the process of putting ads into images on web sites. Today, it is unveiling a related feature called the Image Toolbar that lets users “socialize” an image by sharing it with firends on Facebook and Twitter.

The new feature, which has been in private beta testing for several months, lets users share an image with just one click. It also lets users view related images via a Google Image “like search,” which leverages GumGum’s ability to understand the context around a photo. The toolbar also lets users zoom in on photos. Links generated from the Image Toolbar point back to the publisher. Revenue generated by the toolbar is shared with publishers, said Ophir Tanz, co-founder of GumGum in Santa Monica, Calif.

The toolbar has already been widely adopted by more than 450 publisher sites, which is pretty impressive. It is generating 125 million impressions per month. Large partners include AskMen.com and several Internet Brands properties. Over time, the toolbar will be rolled out across GumGum’s billions of monthly image impressions. The primary purpose of the Image Toolbar is to drive additional page views and provide more value to users.

Tanz says that the company’s embed code for its images reaches 70 million monthly unique visitors across thousands of properties. The embed code identifies an image, assigns context to it, and overlays services on top of the images to maximize monetization and interaction. GumGum enables web publishers to make money from content on their sites. Since the ads become part of the photos, the publishers don’t have to set aside ad space on a web page to monetize the photos. The company was founded in early 2008 by Tanz and Ari Mir. It has 10 employees.

Rivals include PicApp, Image Space Media, and Pixazza. Tanz says his company is bigger than all of them. GumGum has raised $3.9 million in two rounds from First Round Capital, GRP Ventures, and Crosscut Ventures.

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