Author Archives: Ulla

ThingLink Reveals In-Image Sound Recording and Etsy Shop Tag at Hello Etsy! in Berlin

BERLIN, GERMANY (17 September 2011) – ThingLink CEO Ulla Engeström revealed today at the Hello Etsy! Conference in Berlin an in-image sound recording feature that Etsy sellers can use to record stories about their crafts — inside an image.

Created in partnership with SoundCloud, the new feature lets craft makers record personal stories and descriptions about their products by clicking a record link on the ThingLink editor – inside an image. Now any hosted crafts image can be converted into an ad hoc broadcast platform, providing an innovative and engaging method of sharing audio-based product descriptions and placing audio recordings inside an image. See examples here.

“Images play an important role in creating engagement and interest about locally produced objects and crafts,” said ThingLink CEO Ulla Engeström. As a lifelong friend and creator of arts and crafts, I’m delighted to offer a variety of image interaction tools that can bring images new dimensions of personalization and socialization to sharing.”

The new tools announced today will also enable Etsy users to bring add their shop on top of their craft images. The new Etsy Shop rich media tag reveals detailed information about a craft item and leads viewers to an Etsy shop with one click, offering thus a new powerful way to connect craft blogs with Etsy.

“There is a real person behind each product on Etsy, and Thinglink makes it possible for our vendors to let their products tell their stories anywhere on the web, says Matt Stinchcomb, director of Etsy Europe.

Brian McNamara, the founder of Rarebeasts, a small electronics design lab in Canberra, Australia, added, “It’s a great interface and perfect for the kind of products I sell on Etsy.”

ThingLink’s array of rich media tags includes the most popular services such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Eventbrite, SoundCloud, iTunes, and Twitter.

Sign up for a ThingLink account
and start tagging your images today. Check out the video on how to set up your account and create your own blog with rich media content like the Etsy tag.

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Feature release: FB and Twitter share on a shiny new UI

This week’s special includes a shiny new editor UI that features Facebook and Twitter sharing. While previously the image editor was hidden behind the little dot icon in the upper left corner, it now appears on the image together with share and embed options.

Image: Dangerous Crafts

This is how it works: Move your mouse over the image.
– If it is your image (and you are logged in), click the edit tags to edit and reposition tags.
– Click share image to share your favorite images on Facebook or Twitter.
– Click embed image to copy the image with tags.

Let us know how the sharing is working for you! Are your friends retweeting your images? At least in this case, it is easy to monitor — just take a look at your statistics!

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5 Tips for Tagging Images with Thinglink

Thinglink image tags make photos interactive, adding value for readers and enhancing their viewing experience. Here are five suggestions for tagging your images.

1. Make Tags Engaging
Think about what triggers a click. Put yourself in the reader’s place and add tags to objects (people, places and things) that engage readers with fun, interesting links.

2. Tell a Story
Use tags that tell the story under the surface of a photo: what is happening in the image. Uncover the hidden and explain the non-obvious. Use links to navigate readers from inside the image to interesting informational details and links that will make your readers come back for more.

3. Place Tags Tastefully
Remember that anything placed directly on top of a face or object may disrupt the viewing experience. So if you tag a person, don’t cover her face. Place your tags tastefully.

4. More Than One, Less Than Twenty
How many tags should you use? In-image tags make photos interactive. Add 3 to 5 tags to each image to make it interesting and fun. On the other hand, twenty tags may create clutter. The rule of thumb is: if an image is not clearly visible with a tag on it, don’t tag it at all.

5. Direct Links
Make it easy for your readers to enjoy your photos by sharing accurate links. If you tag a lamp or sofa, link directly to that object’s page on a manufacturer or store web site, not a company home page. Avoid spamming.

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Why are we excited about images

Our CEO, Ulla-Maaria Engeström just wrote an interesting post on the eve of the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium taking place in New York City. Here are some excerpts from her post.

1. An image can directly serve the objects it shows

Every image tells more than a thousand words. The most common question asked is, “What’s in Your Photo?” What is this object? Where can I get it? Who else knows about or likes this? Images can answer these questions and more. They can become a new navigational surface for search.

2. An image can serve advertising, commerce, information sharing, social connection, and shopping

According to Forrester, by 2014, 53% of total retail sales (online and offline) will be affected by the Web, as consumers increasingly use the Internet to research products before purchasing. Consumer purchasing decisions are being made based on images and user preference and ratings: Should I read this article? Should I reserve a room at this hotel? Should I meet this guy?

We make decisions based on images. Search is becoming image-based. And in-image interaction tools developed by Thinglink are enabling image-based advertising, commerce, information sharing, social connection and shopping.

3. Images entertain and drive traffic

Advertising is, at its best, art photography or photographic art. Image ads constitute half of the content of major fashion magazines with the best photographers shooting the best models wearing clothes and accessories from major brands. What if all these image advertisement became interactive with links to retailers? Images would become the new point-of-sale.

4. A good image is the least irritating advertisement.

Online banners ads are quickly losing their effectiveness. There is way too much inventory, ads looks the same and prices are falling. Thinglink aims to recreate banner ads with interactive links, better call to action links and user preference data that provides increasing value to marketers.

5. New vocabulary: Image Inventory and Image Interest Factor

Publishers need to start asking: Do your images serve your business goals? How much of your image inventory drives traffic to points of sale? Does your image inventory enable robust user interaction? How much of your image inventory drives reader retention?

In sum, images are being transformed by in-image links to relevant information for advertising, commerce, entertainment, and social connection. With photos constituting perhaps 20 per cent of web real estate, the hundreds of billion of photos online offer rich opportunities for in-image links to engaging user experiences that will revolutionize and transform image interaction. That’s an incredible opportunity that we are very excited about sharing.


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Jonas Forth joins Thinglink as community manager

Just before publishing the Thinglink private beta in 2009, I was browsing the web looking for web-savvy object enthusiasts who we should invite to test the new service. I came across, and found a guy named Jonas Forth whose flickr photos and writings were full of appreciation and passion for objects — and the stories behind them. So I emailed Jonas, and asked him to join the Thinglink beta community.

Within a couple of months Jonas became the most active member of the group with others who started following him and asking advice and help in product identification and valuation. With his professional background and interest in media, and passion in quality objects, Thinglink was a good match for Jonas too.

It is therefore our great pleasure to announce that after two years of active community participation, Jonas has officially joined Thinglink as its new community manager. In this position Jonas will start developing publisher and brand community relations, key account management and community events.

Jonas has over ten years of experience of content production for TV, web and print through positions at YLE, Kinoproduction and MediaCity, specializing in storytelling in cross- and trans-media environments. He has also worked with coordination of productions, conferences and co-projects. Jonas has a Masters degree in political science with a focus on journalism and mass communication. Through his personal interest in design he has promoted design history, individual objects and product development for most of his adult life. He even has his own regular slot in the Finnish-Swedish television as design expert. All in all, there couldn’t be a better person to understand the richness of links that an object can have to its environment — and how all that will eventually change the media.

Follow Jonas on Twitter and on

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Thinglink raises 1M USD from Inventure and Lifeline Ventures

Good news: we are funded! How did it happen? It all came together when we moved to our new offices on Korkeavuorenkatu. It’s a great location in Helsinki, conveniently above an awesome internet agency Valve, and coincidentally in the same space where we operated Jaiku (and Thinglink) back in 2007. I think it was the space that got Petteri Koponen (cofounder of Jaiku and founder of Lifeline Ventures) in a sentimental mood, so he invested in Thinglink. As it happens, on the top floor there is another venture capital firm called Inventure that also believes in the growth of in-image advertising. Well, the rest is history and here we are, looking into the future, together with Inventure and Lifeline Ventures.

Here is our official press release:

Thinglink raises 1M USD from European investors for in-image product advertising network

Helsinki and Palo Alto-based product tagging startup Thinglink has raised $1 million in seed funding from Nordic investors Inventure and Lifeline Ventures to develop an in-image advertising network for brands, retailers and other product advertisers. Thinglink offers online publishers a tool for engaging their viewers through interactive images. Any blogger or website can use Thinglink to make the objects in their images clickable and to drive traffic from these images to e-commerce sites and other destinations.

Founded in 2008 by design blogger Ulla-Maaria Engeström after a conversation with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Thinglink started as a free product code provider for design objects. The site grew into an invitation-only social network for design enthusiasts, and in July this year launched a technology for tagging products in images on any website or blog. The company today added for publishers realtime statistics about the views, hovers and clicks on their tagged images. Examples of European publishers and brands using Thinglink include the Scandinavian media house Aller, The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE (Wenzel’s Antique Road Show), and interior design brand Artek.

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Bringing in business with photos: Tikau home decoration

If you are a design company making cool things, we have good news for you: it’s never been this easy to bring in business by taking wonderful photos. Let’s take an example.


Tikau is a home decoration brand from Helsinki that mixes Scandinavian design with Indian crafting. ‘Tikau’ is a Hindi word meaning long lasting, durable and sustainable. After traveling in India and studying its rich crafting culture, the founder of Tikau, Taina Snellman, wanted to do something to support sustainable community development in rural India.  In 2008 she decided to engage top Scandinavian designers such as Klaus Haapaniemi and Ilkka Suppanen to work with Indian crafters. The result was an elegant home decoration collection with rugs, baskets, pillows, and accessories made from natural dyes and materials such as uncolored wool, organic cotton,  banana fiber and recycled materials.

How to spread the word around?

Building up retail for an emerging design brand is hard and terribly expensive. Getting attention in social media is easier than getting people to visit the shop. But how to benefit from the online attention? This is where we can help.

Tikau has its own webstore and great photos of their products. With the help of Thinglink tags, these photos are now served in the interactive, rich photo format for bloggers and online magazines.

For Taina and her colleagues this means that
– they can offer more information about each item in a photo (tagging images with Thinglink)

– they can link promo images of Tikau homes right back to their new web store or to the crafting community where things are made (linking a tag to a web address)

– they can follow what photos and products are most viewed (Thinglink statistics on image and tag views)

– they can follow online press coverage for their photos (Thinglink statistics on image embeds)

What’s the cost?

For using Thinglink, nothing. For tagging the photos, 1 hour of the shop assistant Angel’s time. For embedding the tagged photos on the site, 5 minutes of Web developer Luca’s time. That’s all.

If you’d like to copy these images, click the icon in the upper left corner to get the embed code.

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Thinglink in Wired UK

The September issue of Wired UK is running a cool story on Thinglink – check out the online version.

“The things that have the most personality — art, craft and vintage objects — can’t be easily recommended, because they can’t be easily identified,” says Ulla-Maaria Engeström. With her start-up, Thinglink, the Helsinki-based design consultant plans to bring visibility to this “invisible tail” of hard-to-find objects. Users can embed Thinglink’s photo-tagging tool on their websites and set up info-packed hot-spots on their images. “People love to share images — and data,” explains Engeström, 36.

Perhaps the coolest part of the story is the photo: it was shot at design boutique Do Shop in London’s Soho, and all the things are available online through their web store. My favorite piece is the resin Moon Wolf statue I’m actually holding in a leash — you can’t see it in the online version of the image, but look for it in the print magazine!

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Launched: simple photo tags

Exciting news: has just been released to the public.

It’s a simple, free photo tagging tool that makes it easy to add clickable tags to any image on the web.

Any blogger or website can use Thinglink to make the objects in their images clickable. For example, have a look at how the Finnish edition of the world’s largest fashion magazine Elle is using Thinglink to enhance images of travel accessories and cosmetics; fashion and design tableware examples on; and vintage toys on the blog of an antiques TV show.

Why tag your images? Well, to drive traffic. Pictures invite clicks. According the New York Times, users are 5-15 times more likely to click on tagged images than other web ads.

Your images can contain anything: fashion, sports, interiors, news, a map… and your tags can lead anywhere: link to an online retailer you have an affiliate partnership with, or an article containing more information. You decide.

The cool part about this is that many publishers we’ve talked to love the idea that their images can be re-embedded freely with the tags (select “Embed” from the pulldown on the top left corner of any Thinglink-enabled image).

The tags work on any standard image. Simply copy your image url from your website and paste it to the Thinglink tag editor to add tags. When finished, copy the embed code we provide and paste it to the html of your website. It’s like embedding a YouTube video. Your image file remains untouched. Our JavaScript simply displays your tags when viewers move their mouse over the image.

The embed code works on any website or blog that allows Javascript: Blogger, TypePad, Tumblr, your own WordPress installation. Thinglink tags are standard Javascript, so they work on all standard-compliant browsers (although we still struggle a bit with Internet Explorer) and require no plugins. The tags work for everyone, including users who access your site on their iPhones and iPads.

We love it and hope you will too! Let us know what you think and how you would like us to improve. (Tip: we’re already working on stats for tracking your tags).

To our 4,000 lovely beta testers: we’ll continue to run an invite-only private beta as a test bed for new ideas. If you’re already a member of the private beta, your data is safe and you can access your account at The new tagging tool lives on

Happy tagging!

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Am I suitable for this job at Thinglink? Start here.

We’re looking for a talented web developer to join our team! Route your way through the flowchart, and send us a short free-form application with your resume attached to

Job ad flowchart

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