As part of his ongoing series of interviews with “thought leaders in online media,” MediaShift‘s Mark Glaser interviewed Daylife CEO Upendra Shardanand last week to learn more about the recent investment from Getty Images, the launch of SmartGalleries, and the company’s future.
The result is a deep, thoughtful look at what Daylife has accomplished and where we’re headed, from curation to automation and everything in between. Read the excerpt below for a peek at what’s in store, and find whole piece at MediaShift.
How has your vision for Daylife changed over the last two years since you’ve launched the site and service?
Upendra Shardanand: When we launched the business, the concept was to do a platform and a site that the platform powered. We launched in December ’06 with a client using the platform, and in January ’07 with the site, and pretty quickly our focus went to the platform. The concept is to help publishers easily and quickly curate, organize and aggregate media, whether it’s from their own archives, from around the web, or from other third-party providers. A lot of our publishers are not traditionally deep into technology, so we’re building the technology layer and editor tools so that the process is effortless and scales.
Our first big break came at the end of ’07 when we signed with USA Today. They called us and said they have a travel section with one blogger blogging about cruise lines. They were trying to sell sponsorships to Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines but they didn’t have enough traffic in this area. So they took Daylife and gave it to their editor and IT guys and built Daylife-powered pages with photo galleries and sections for every port of call and cruise operator. It went from being one editor and a skinny blog to being one editor plus Daylife, and it’s much more of a news portal. Traffic jumped by seven times within three weeks.
Until that point, we had focused on 100 percent automated solutions, where everything is automated. But with USA Today, the blogger Gene Sloan wanted a console where he can tweak things and move things around. That put us on a path to be much more around building tools that help people curate themselves along with automated assistance.
What about the tools you are building for Getty Images, now that they’ve become an investor in Daylife?
Shardanand: The Getty relationship is focused around distributing tools to their client base that revolve around the workflow of an editor. So they can do what they do but more efficiently, and with a lot more intelligence, and make their job easier and faster. The first thing we’re doing with Getty is called SmartGalleries [see demo, below]. The basic problem for any wire service is supplying assets to any publisher. With Getty, the assets are photos, and they just drop that at the publisher’s doorstep, and the publisher has to figure out how to ingest it, put it in their CMS [content management system], figure out a workflow, maximize user engagement.
So we built this tool so that people can quickly go in, build a gallery by searching and dragging things around, and make a player. It also has automated assistance where an editor can say ‘here’s one photograph, fill in the rest for me, based on what I’ve already picked.’ Once the gallery is published, the automation will keep it up to date, and can build related galleries. So if you have galleries around the U.S. Open, it will automatically generate galleries for Roger Federer or Serena Williams. An editor can launch a gallery, or an infinite web of galleries, which is great for the editor, because it’s an easy way to publish very quickly.