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In the ecommerce world, digital images are everything. A new platform is using artificial intelligence (AI) to give brands the ability to evaluate visual content “through the eyes” of their target audiences in real time. 

Vizit, a provider of image analytics software for global brands and retailers, uses the organic interactions millions of consumers have with online commercial imagery to generate new AI-powered models of their visual preferences, called Vizit Audience Lenses. The goal is to ensure the images a brand uses for representing its products online are effective at capturing the desired audience’s attention and triggering sales conversions.

Vizit is the latest entrant in the crowded digital shelf space, which refers to wherever products are made visible and available for online purchase. This includes a brand’s own product pages, as well as third parties, social media outlets, banner and mobile ads, and Google. 

The digital shelf is considered one of the most critical elements of ecommerce, and as brands look to cut costs, advanced predictive AI image analytics lets them quickly assess how an image will perform across different channels and better understand customer expectations.

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Vizit today announced a $10 million series A round, led by Infinity Ventures and Brand Foundry Ventures, to grow its Visual Brand Performance Platform. The round also added new investors eGateway Capital and several CPG, retail, and technology executives, with participation from existing investors including Lakefront Partners and Lubar and Co., the company said.

How Vizit’s predictive image analytics works

Vizit founder and CEO Jehan Hamedi told VentureBeat that 99% of brand marketers and ecommerce leaders are probably not aware that they have a problem with their digital images. 

“And many of them may be leaving millions of dollars on the table, as a result,’’ Hamedi added. “Just imagine a world before Google; businesses didn’t know what their search rankings were or how important the search-rank metric was to their digital success until it became available. Then an entirely new economy sprung up overnight to report on and optimize those metrics.”

This is the idea behind Vizit Scores, which are generated once users upload images to the Vizit platform, Hamedi said. The software automatically analyzes those images using AI models called AI Audience Lenses, which view and assess them for the intended audience.

The proprietary scores are generated in real time with automated and predictive image analytics through a web-based interface. The scores are designed to reveal which populations the image appeals to, what drives their preference, and where attention is garnered, he said.

For example, “Imagine you are a brand marketer, ecommerce leader, or designer at L’Oreal and you want to know if your product imagery and designs will be successful at attracting and converting a given audience,’’ such as millennial female consumers, Hamedi said. “You might also want to know what the visual trends are in your category, and what your competitors are doing that resonates with your target consumers.” 

The Vizit platform aims to make this possible, he said.

“Customers use Vizit’s AI image analytics to assess the quality of their existing imagery to adjust and improve their imagery, and to select the images that have the highest performance potential with their target audience for new ecommerce, marketing and product development initiatives,” Hamedi said.

The goal is to deliver predictive insights about how consumers will react to content, how brands’ content performance compares to their competitors, and what design elements will capture a target audience’s attention, make products stand out on the digital shelf, and drive category-dominating levels of ecommerce conversion.

Brands finding success with Vizit’s AI platform

“Before Vizit, Mars never had a way to determine the imagery and design elements that contribute to conversion,” said Roman Vorobiev, global director of design and artwork management at Mars Inc., in a statement. “Vizit gives us an anchor point to measure how relevant and effective our images are for our audience, and we have proven that higher Vizit Scores on our content lead to up to 30% more units sold across major retailers.”

Mars is now reporting on its Vizit Scores in nearly a dozen countries, Vorobiev said. 

Vizit has enterprise customers in 10 countries in a range of industries, including several of the top 10 largest food and beverage companies, the largest motorcycle manufacturer, and the largest cosmetics and beauty company in the world, according to the company.

“Every industry you can think of depends on successful visual communications and visual brand building,” said Brian Spaly, general partner at Brand Foundry Ventures and founder of Bonobos and Trunk Club, in a statement. “Vizit has forever changed the way products are merchandised, market research is conducted, campaigns are created, new products are conceived, and brands are built.”

Hamedi said that with the series A funding, Vizit will continue to invest in expanding the platform’s capabilities to serve its Fortune 100 customers and grow Vizit’s international presence.

Getting seen on the digital shelf

For companies like Vizit to gain traction in the digital shelf arena, they will need to provide a better online shopping experience than their competitors by understanding customer needs and optimizing their pages accordingly, according to web analytics firm Similarweb in a blog post

There are several ways to do this, including investing in SEO for improved visibility, focusing on the right digital shelf metrics and enhancing visual content.

“You could have a great brand and fantastic products, but those two things alone won’t guarantee that you’ll conquer the digital shelf in 2022,’’ Similarweb said. It requires “a strategy that directly addresses digital shopper behavior and the idiosyncrasies of discovery in the digital shopping space.”

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