What Makes Images Go Viral? Imgur Analytics Will Tell You

A new tool from the image-sharing platform aims to provide insights into the life of a viral image.

Imgur Analytics

Imgur, the preferred image-hosting platform for social-sharing sites like Reddit, announced the launch of an analytics platform today. Imgur Analytics is a tool that will help users and advertisers track the life of an image on the Web. This is the latest step that the image-hosting site has taken steps to become more of a social network: “We’re trying to be a content destination for viral images and to be an entertainment destination in general,” Imgur CEO Alan Schaaf told SocialTimes.

Created as a ‘gift to Reddit‘ by Schaaf in 2009, the platform surpassed Reddit in traffic last year, with a majority of visitors going to the site directly (followed closely by referrals from Reddit). Imgur Analytics gives users even more of a reason to do so. The platform allows users to:

  • Track total image views over time
  • Graph image views over time by date range and even by the hour
  • See top traffic referral sources (ex. Facebook, Reddit, Twitter)
  • Get detailed traffic referral paths within each top referral source (to know the exact traffic source)

Images that go viral are usually very popular in the first day, and then fall off exponentially, Schaaf explained. Imgur Analytics will help users and advertisers see which images are doing well on specific sites. Though it was developed for average users, the platform is especially useful for advertisers, who are responsible for most of the site’s revenue. Imgur has offered sponsored images since 2012. Images that are uploaded there can be then shared on any other platform, making it “particularly interesting for advertisers or social media people,” said Schaaf.

“The thing about Imgur is that it really is a hub for sharing,” said COO Matt Strader. “People upload with the explicit intent to share that image on social networking sites.”

Schaaf says that users’ have had a generally positive reaction to sponsored images from advertisers: “We try hard to provide the best user experience possible and that means the best ads possible, so we work with the brands to come up with the best images,” he said.

The analytics platform will no doubt help attract more advertisers, who will get insights on the success of their campaigns. “Although the world is in early stages of analyzing the data and science of virality with image content online, Imgur believes they are in the unique position to leverage those learnings,” said the release announcing the news.

A large part of the site’s success came from developing a community with the introduction of upvote/downvote and a messaging system. “The Imgur community as a whole is generally a lot more positive and a lot more funny than other communities,” said Schaaf. Users are encouraged to post insightful or humorous comments by Imgur’s “trophies,” which include rewards for the cute, interesting and punny. And while Imgur may be Reddit’s favorite image host, there is some rivalry brewing between the two.

The tool is only available to those with a pro account, which costs $23.95 a year.