The Q + A: ImgurImgur talks about the magic of the internet and connecting brands with their loyal community of consumers.

With 74 percent of its audience under the age of 35, and 83 percent spending more than three hours a week on the site, Imgur is a compelling draw for brands wanting to reach a millennial audience through one of the most hotly competitive channels: video.

Over the last decade, Imgur has become the online destination where consumers turn to have their spirits lifted by discovering the magic of the internet. The passionate online community of 250 million monthly users share some of the most entertaining content on the web through memes, GIFs, images and videos.

Imgur’s Founder and CEO, Alan Schaaf, and Bob Huseby, Vice President of Sales, discussed the evolution of the platform and how they are using Quantcast’s audience insights to help brands reach their highly engaged and loyal community of consumers.

How has the brand evolved over time?

From Founder and CEO, Alan Schaaf: I actually built Imgur from my college dorm room to solve my own problem of wanting to quickly and easily share images. Everything else that existed at the time was designed around storing photos, not sharing them. I’ve always seen an image as something that has the power to positively impact people and bring them together – so I built a utility to address that need. Imgur quickly became the world’s simplest utility to share images on websites, blogs, online communities, or through chat.

Over time, I noticed that so much of the great content that was being originated on Imgur was being shared in other places, so made the decision to turn Imgur into a destination where people could go to share content with one another, express themselves and tell their stories.

Our community has now grown to 250 million Imgurians, as we call them, who share amazing stories and funny and inspiring content with one another.

As a company, we’ve doubled-down on our mission to bring entertaining and uplifting content to our community by investing in the launch of new features that help people discover new content and curate their favorites.  

Imgur has an incredibly loyal user base. How do you maintain your current users while attaining new ones? Are there any secrets to audience retention and engagement that you can share with us?

AS: Our community views Imgur as a space for positivity and a place where they can go to be entertained and uplifted for a few minutes every day. We’ve embraced and encouraged that as a company, which is what we believe keeps people coming back. We also listen closely to and interact with our community regularly, and put their needs and wants first when thinking about our user experience.

Over the past 18 months, for example, we’ve rolled out a series of new features that our community has been asking us for, including Favorites Folders which allows users  to “favorite” content that they like and categorize it into folders. Constantly listening to your community and providing tools that will benefit them and improve their experience is key to retention and growth.

And speaking of engagement, how does Imgur use Quantcast to better understand its audience?

From Vice President of Sales, Bob Huseby: Brands like Netflix, Old Spice, and Taco Bell look to us to reach specific audiences, so we need to know who our audience is and what they’re interested in. We work with Quantcast to gather and analyze audience insights such as interests, likes, and dislikes, which we then share with advertisers, along with our ideas for how best to engage with them. Our relationship with Quantcast is critical to what we do. It’s a combination of validating audience assumptions and gleaning new insights.

What was the most surprising insight that Quantcast helped you to discover about your audience?

BH: Quantcast frequently helps us to validate insights that we already have about our audience. For example, we may believe our audience enjoys fast food, but the insights that we gain from Quantcast show us just how much we over index in that category. We’ll also find there are interests we didn’t expect our audience loves, like fashion. These unexpected, but very welcome insights enable us to work with new industries, like relevant fashion brands.

What makes Imgur’s audience unique to advertisers?

BH: Imgur’s community is unique from other web sites that attract millennial males because of its love of geek culture. When beer companies or game publishers or even car companies think of reaching a millennial male audience, they often equate that with sports. Our community is more of a ‘Big Bang Theory’ kind of audience, which is a key differentiator for us. They’re interested in sci-fi and PC gaming and are in general much more STEM-oriented than other sites out there that attract the “typical” millennial male demographic.

What is the most viewed and/or upvoted content of all time? Why do you think it was/is so popular?

From Vice President of Community, Sarah Schaaf: These are not necessarily the most shared, because we don’t track that metric, but are pieces of content that have had a lot of views and upvotes. As you can see, the general gist of why any of them are popular is that they make people feel good and are entertaining.

How has Imgur made video a competitive advantage?

BH: Video has become the currency of the internet, and being an entertainment website, video is critical to our mission ‘to lift the world’s spirits for a few moments each day’. It’s also a mainstay in digital advertising – advertisers demand that you run video because that’s what users expect. That’s a big part of why we rolled out video on the platform, and why we’re working to increase the video ad options on the platform as well. Since we started investing in video, we’ve seen it grow immensely. Video now accounts for a significant portion of our post views – in fact, 52 percent of pageviews in our “Most Viral” section are video.

What is coming down the pipeline for advertisers? Any new innovations?

BH: Imgur’s advertising strategy for a long time has revolved around the promoted post. While the promoted post has historically been a great tool for advertisers, it’s presented in-stream (as opposed to being served immediately when a user comes to the site) so the amount of people an ad reaches is dependent on how deep a user goes into the stream. We’re currently working on new offerings for advertisers which will allow them to reach users immediately when they come to Imgur, thereby taking full advantage of our scale across all our platforms. Many of our advertisers are in the entertainment space, so our new offerings are designed to be high-impact and to provide a great canvas for TV networks, streaming companies, video game publishers and film studios.

What is it like to work at Imgur? How would you define the office culture?

AS: Office culture is super important to us at Imgur. We define ourselves to our audience as a place for positivity, and that mantra definitely extends across every part of our company. Our culture is informal and open-door. We’ve grown our company size very intentionally over the past ten years, which has helped us to maintain a close-knit, family environment among our team. We offer support and flexibility to our team, including perks like “Work from Home Wednesday,” so that they don’t feel torn between their work and personal lives.

Congratulations on Imgur’s 10 Year Anniversary! How did you celebrate?

AS: Thank you! We’re really proud of the growth that we’ve seen over the past decade. We threw a party at a skee ball arcade for our team, now over 100 strong. We shared the love with our community by creating a “cake” button that covered the site with confetti and balloons when clicked. To top it off, we shared some highlights from the past 10 years in a fun birthday post.

What’s next for Imgur?

AS: In the next ten years, we’ll continue to invest in making Imgur the go-to platform for positivity on the internet. We’re constantly listening to our community, and will continue to design tools and create a user experience that engages and excites them. We’ll also currently exploring innovative ways to dive even further into the areas of interest that we know our audience has, and create new offerings around those specific interests. Finally, we’ll also continue to double-down on our advertising strategy, creating even more exciting offerings for brands and working with companies across a variety of new categories.