Online photo editing startup Aviary is going to start generating revenue by offering branded filters and "stickers" as features, Aviary CEO Tobias Peggs announced at the Ad Age Digital Conference on Tuesday.
When users now go to Aviary to manipulate their smartphone photos, they will now be able to use filters branded by H&M or Red Bull. The new offering also includes stickers -- artwork placed over photos -- provided by Atlantic Records to promote the upcoming "Evil Friends" album from indie rock band Portugal. the Man. The stickers resemble the album art for the upcoming release, and they have already started appearing on users' Instagram photos.
Aviary, then, is using Instagram to promote its brand and band clients while Instagram continues to earn nothing from its platform. Facebook -- Instagram's parent company -- has yet to incorporate ads into the popular photo-sharing service it acquired last year.
Mr. Peggs said the branded filters and stickers will be directly available via its 30 photo-sharing and messaging app partners. These partners give Aviary a reach of 10 million monthly active users, Mr. Peggs added.
Aviary does not have a sharing functionality, but it does power the photo manipulation features in many popular photo-sharing apps. Twitter and Flickr -- Aviary's most popular photo-sharing partners -- are currently not offering the new branded features.
That doesn't mean users won't use those apps to circulate photos branded via Aviary's new features. A user can add a Red Bull filter to his photo, save it on his phone, and then tweet that photo to his followers, for instance.
Bringing ads to photo-sharing services has been a touchy subject among users since Instagram announced in December that it could use their photos in advertising. Instagram quickly backpedaled and assured users it wouldn't sell their photos.
Instagram hasn't established a money-generating alternative, however, thus allowing brands to post de facto advertisements for free.
Aviary, meanwhile, has established what seems to be an acceptable alternative: allowing users to opt-in to branded photo editing features.