Travel UGC: There’s more to it than meets the eye

Travel user generated content holds untapped marketing potential that, only when properly classified, presents a golden opportunity for publishers to monetise this content and make it more targetable for brands.

Holidaymakers aren’t waiting a week for the snaps taken on their disposable camera to develop, they are posting them in real-time via their mobile or laptop computer straight to their social media channels.

In fact, a new infographic released this week from Stackla highlighted that, as of June 2015 more than 47 million #travel photos have been posted to Instagram alone.

The good news for brands is that 40% of millennials rely specifically on this sort of user-generated content to inform their future travel plans.

Herein lies the advertising opportunity. It is now not sufficient enough to simply use contextual data to validate a picture based on the text around it, but only by utilising image recognition technology can visual content be fully understood and turned into valuable data.

They say a picture paints a thousand words so implementing an image classification solution offers the ability to translate that visual content into text. This means that publishers, platforms and advertisers can maximise its potential by allowing the content to be traded and made more targetable for brands, giving it value and context.

In the same way as classifying a holiday photo or video as a IAB20 Travel, neural networks have the ability to recognise key characteristic and convolutional layers contained within that image.

For example, if someone uploads a family shot standing on a beach, in front of their rented holiday jeep, the taxonomy relating to that wouldn’t just recognise ‘Travel’, but ‘Jeep’.

The web is becoming increasingly visual. Many ad technologies fail in such an environment as they are unable to determine the content of an image or video due to the lack of descriptive meta data.

Travel user generated content can be a goldmine but only if you can leverage it in the right way. There is a huge opportunity for websites, platforms and hosting companies to monetise and understand their consumers better by turning these photos into new data points.