Imgur has its roots in serving the Reddit community, but the photo-hosting site, known for sharing viral images, is using its highly-trafficked platform to help brands reach fans. A sign that it's growing up, Imgur announced Thursday that it has hit a new milestone, with 100 million monthly unique users, making it the 28th most popular site in the U.S.
With up to 1 million uploads each day, Imgur is home to more than 650 million images. As a college student in 2009, founder and CEO Alan Schaaf built Imgur specifically for Reddit. He did so with a note titled, "My Gift to Reddit: I created an image hosting service that doesn't suck. What do you think?" Though the Reddit community drove Imgur's early success, today about 30% of traffic comes directly, with the rest largely dominated by social: Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, respectively (Schaaf declined to specify the breakdown).
"We still take Reddit's opinion of us very, very highly," he said. Still, the company, which has not raised any funding in its history, has been inking more deals with brands to bring in revenue. Sponsored images are featured prominently on the homepage, potentially exposing them to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views, COO Matt Strader said. "We're essentially giving them the ability to buy their way to the top," he added, noting the company works closely with partners to craft content that appeals to users, not just resize existing display ads. "We don't want to give [users, also known as Imgurians] advertisements. We want to give them pieces of content that they are going to like and upvote anyway," Schaaf said.
A recent partner, Rockstar Games tapped Imgur to promote Grand Theft Auto V, which grossed $800 million on its first day. The site has also worked with GE, Virgin, PlayStation, and Paramount Studios for the movie The Dictator.