Advertising Technology

Luminate’s Toby Bodner on the Power of Pictures

Toby Bodner is an Account Director at Luminate, a technology that makes online images interactive. The company, formerly known as Pixazza, is backed by Google Ventures, among others. Previously, Toby has experience on the publisher and agency sides, having worked at, Hearst Digital and Avenue A. We recently spoke with Toby about her current role and company.

The Makegood: You recently made the move to Luminate after having worked at some of the major media companies like The New York Times, Hearst Digital and Avenue A. What motivated you to make the move to a smaller company?

TB: The passion and energy at Luminate is unlike any other experience I’ve had. Everyone at Luminate is working in tandem towards a common goal of changing the way we view images online. By simply mousing over any image, a “Luminate-enabled” image becomes a canvas to shop, share, comment, examine, curate, search and socialize.  This is a massive opportunity considering there are 3 trillion images online – and I wanted to be a part of it.  Being able to shape a product at an early stage is very rewarding.  I feel personally invested in the process.

The Makgeood: What does your role as Account Director entail? Who do you meet with?

TB: My responsibility is to expand awareness and introduce global advertisers to the capabilities of Luminate. Since joining in September, I’ve been meeting with top agencies and brands. In the coming months, we will be able to announce strategic partnerships with leading brands that will effectively capture [the] consumer’s visual engagement and drive performance.

The Makegood: What would you say are the biggest challenges to working on a platform product?

TB: The biggest challenge is actually what attracted me in the first place – Luminate’s mission to make online images interactive. Asking brands to think differently about their customer outreach and spending their advertising differently is not an easy task, but with a unique market niche and a solid business strategy, we are headed down the right path.

Instead of focusing on channel-specific experiences, advertisers need to pay attention to the realities of today’s multi-channel customer who may use multiple touch points in pursuit of a single goal, and expects all touch points to be in sync. A few years ago, having a digital customer experience strategy meant having a website strategy. But today, successfully delivering a cohesive experience that meets and exceeds expectations requires a more thoughtful approach that considers the entire customer journey.

The Makegood: Are the any recent campaigns that you can tell us about that were especially successful?

TB: We recently partnered with Revlon on a campaign to promote their new line of mascara. Luminate’s category experts identified visual cues relevant to the brand – in this case – women wearing the “smokey eye look” – and served the message to users interacting with those particular images.  The user moused over the image to find various image applications (shop, share, etc.). The brand experience: An “App wrap” (surrounding the shopping App) – inspiring the user to “get the look” with Revlon. The results: 400% performance vs. rich media units. We attest the impressive performance results to three factors: the focus of the unit (advertising delivered to the focal point of the web — Images), user-initiated engagement (active impressions only), and relevance.

 The Makegood: Thanks, Toby.


  • Andrew

    Dear Toby, We read with great interest of your latest venture. Today we spent the afternoon with a chum thay I got to know 50 years ago while doing my National Service with the R.A.F. in Singapore. We looked through our respective photo albums and there were a number of images that it would have been good to pass over. Unfortunately I’m insuficiently skilled to do this from the home.laptop.
    Glad Mum passed on your posting. L&K’s Andrew & Derrick

  • Jagoldblum

    What an articulate, passionate and effective spokesperson for Luminate. What a coup to get Toby Bodner!!

  • Dean Wicklund

    Luminate hasn’t worked for a month now!