Aircam Pioneers Local Solution for Visual Search

Share this:

Aircam launched to great fanfare in late 2019, buoyed by $6.5 million in seed funding, with the goal of giving users instant access to pictures taken by professional event photographers.

Months later, the pandemic hit, and in-person events were canceled around the world. The idea of running a real-time photo-sharing platform for pictures taken at weddings and parties was called into question, and Aircam co-founders Evan and Ryan Rifkin knew they needed to make a change. 

The brothers, who also co-founded Burstly, the company behind the mobile app-testing service TestFlight, found a way to pivot by turning their live event marketplace into a geofenced event photography business that offers local semantic photography solutions at scale. 

The Rifkins connected with local marketing expert Mike Blumenthal based on the suggestion of PatientPop co-founder Luke Kervin, and set out to develop AI-powered photos built for the world of visual search. They use patented technology that works on mobile phones and professional cameras to get multi-location businesses higher conversions while controlling their brands across the web.

The new concept hinged on the idea that Aircam would match where the market was headed, rather than where it’d been. 

“We thought multi-location brands had the biggest pain point to solve since the vast majority of them rely on stock or generic imagery versus location-specific content. When considering local purchase decisions, our research showed consumers actually prefer local authentic content,” says Evan Rifkin. “As we’ve met with more solution providers in the market, it was also clear that even single-location SMBs have challenges, and our scoring technology can help.” 

Aircam is planning to roll out an offering to SMBs later this year.

In the meantime, the company is beginning with an agency strategy. Evan says he sees Aircam’s offering as a very clear complement—and differentiator—to existing marketing programs, such as local SEO, SEM, web, social, and email. Aircam uses a reseller model, with tools, APIs, and processes to support white-labeling, platform integrations, and demand generation.

“No other company has the technology to livestream photos from a professional camera. The live streaming enables us to score against Google Vision AI, so the photographer knows when they have the right shot for both consumers and search engines,” Evan says. “Aircam actually has several patents around this technology, which also covers our self-serve product from mobile phones.” 

Now, the Rifkins are facing a new challenge — making the market aware of what they’re doing and the impact local photos are having on search performance.

Google announced multiple visual search tools during its developer conference keynote this month, including features like Google Maps “Immersive View” and “Scene Exploration.” However, local business adoption of visual search solutions is still nascent, with only the largest organizations investing significantly in the space.​​

“In the last six months we’ve gone from having one client success story in QSR to over 10 across the restaurant, insurance, retail, banking, medical, and dental categories. So, we are confident that universally, if you deliver a local lead—or search engine—the right local content, they’ll respond positively,” Evan says. 

Aircam recently released a Yext platform integration, and Evan believes industry momentum is on his side. He says Apple and Yelp are in the process of making updates so photos align more closely with user search intent. Google is experimenting with new visual search solutions as well.

“Search results are getting more visual, and we see that trend continuing. If a photo can match a user’s search intent and is authentic, it makes sense that it will perform better,” Evan says. “We see this as the beginning of a new chapter of what it means to truly execute Local SEO and we look forward to swapping out stale stock imagery for our locally accurate, attractive, and authentic content across as many businesses and channels as possible.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.