Dec 2, 2019

Art institutions’ online presence rating is to overtake traditional rankings

The level of online presence is becoming a new challenge for the art community

After the latest edition of Art Market Day, organized by Le Quotidien de l’Art this past November, an extensive dialogue emerged between .ART representatives and the attendees.  Featured as part of the “Big data: new tools for the market” panel, a presentation of .ART’s expertise in the field of art rankings gave rise to interest and questions regarding the need to create new tools to reliably measure the success of digital art projects .ART’s answer – its big data algorithm. In order to address these queries, we decided to take a deep dive into the topic.

A new challenge for the art market

Smartphones, which are now as common as toothbrushes, emerged almost 20 years ago. It has been more than ten years since the first iPhone was introduced in June 2007. The overwhelming majority of the world population is constantly online, which brought tectonic changes to nearly every aspect of our everyday life. The art world is not an exception. Art has been notably democratised and expanded its reach during recent decades. While prestigious art rankings show little to no change in structure over the years, we offer a new approach that will help the artistic community take full advantage of the benefits of strong online presence.

Every prominent art fair reminds us that radical digital changes are taking place in the art market. This is occurring via emerging technologies like Blockchain, relative newcomers like Amazon’s Alexa, and in the future – through unique digital experiences like VR. Internet of things, cloud computing, 5G, AI, big data, digital algorithms – all of these things have become the everyday reality.

If you are not online, you simply don’t exist: most people can’t find you.

Traditionally, the art market has been poorly represented online. Today all the specific formats of interaction between the audience, artists and galleries are defined and dictated by the functional possibilities of modern devices, the functionality of applications, the structure of social media and its available instruments.

Offline life does not lose its importance for the art community, but digital presence today is evidently far from being secondary to the physical institutions. Online presence is essential, and many who are not or poorly represented online risk to miss lucrative opportunities to cash in.

Why online traffic metrics are not enough

Considering the growing popularity of online buying attracting the attention of buyers, directing traffic to websites is one of the most important challenges faced by all market participants – companies and platforms. There are already existing ratings based on website traffic belonging to companies which operate in art e-commerce and antiques market, for example the ones included in the Art market report 2019 by Art Basel&UBS.

According to the report, traffic rankings give an indication of changing metrics year-to-year for companies and an indication of popularity, metrics on social media can also offer some insights, but this is not sufficient for the exhaustive assessment.

Systems of art ranking that are currently in use can be best described as archaic.

In this context the main principles for global ratings of art institutions and artists must undergo significant transformation helping creative brands — whether they are artists, galleries, selling platforms or museums — to adapt. .ART is certain that there is a need for multidimensional assessment of art institutions’ «online weight» and capacities, that is why we are offering a new comprehensive approach to online ratings. Our goal is to show how members of the artistic community can take full advantage of the benefits of strong online presence.

As our analytics show the segment of the population engaged with art is growing and expected to grow further. Those who want to be fully engaged with the audience and serviced with digital equipment should first of all think of the qualitative and quantitative parameters of their online presence.

A radically new approach

Considering this purpose, .ART proposes a completely novel approach to the principles of global rating in the art world, based on our exhaustive big data algorithm.

This sophisticated methodology takes into account the modern trend of mostly online consumption, thus providing an alternative view on the relevance hierarchy in the art world.

We gathered hundreds of millions of words and word-combinations from online sources (e.g., Google AdWords and Wikipedia) and static sources (e.g., art reference materials). This occurred over months of online data collection and included billions of queries. Each word combination was scored against 14 separate criteria such as social media ratings, Google search popularity, Alexa traffic ratings, Wikipedia term frequency usage, TripAdvisor ranking, traffic, reviews etc.

For Wikipedia not only number of visits per page was taken into consideration, but also the frequency of mentions of a certain unique name in art-related categories, in a non-linear relationship to the total Wikipedia result.

The initial set in a total of three categories (Art Fairs, Artists, Online) included 741 unique names. Based on this, 3243 key words were generated, all of which had a clear association with certain names. For a unique name like Pablo Picasso, for instance, the key words were the following: picasso, pablopicasso, pablo-picasso, picassopablo, picasso-pablo. This kind of amplification of the data block was especially effective for detailed data analysis, acquired from such resources as Google and Alexa.

Standard mathematical methods and algorithms were used to process data received from Internet resources. The value of these methods is the absolute unambiguity of result interpretation, simplicity of application and, most importantly, high quality of the results.

To obtain the most objective rating, it was necessary to combine a full-fledged analysis of existing data from the Internet and expert assessment of the impact of certain data sources on the popularity of unique names for each category (e.g. “online companies,” “old masters,” etc.).

The technical challenge was to rank the unique names for each of the parameters (each parameter corresponds to one Internet resource) by assigning a normalized value from 0 to 1. As a result, a universal system for creating ratings with floating coefficients came into being. The use of the system allowed art experts to assign coefficients for each parameter.

The importance of each parameter differs from one ranking to another. For example, for the Online category (online platforms like Amazon or Etsy), the influence of Alexa.com parameter is more significant than the influence of other parameters, thus it was assigned a higher parameter weight. For this category we did not take into consideration the number of views in Wikipedia, while the number of Google request was among the important factors. To improve the rankings companies must take on a tricky task of making people search for them more or work on their Instagram and Facebook presence.

By comparison, the Old Masters category analysis was based on its popularity on Wikipedia, while parameters like social media popularity haven’t had any impact on the ranking: obviously, old masters don’t have official accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

While the rankings of old masters or impressionists are based on the popularity of their Wiki pages and the number of relevant queries in Google, the leadership among living artists is mainly connected to solid social media presence.

Offline and the risk of being irrelevant

Specific strategies of establishing online presence and improving SEO results, gaining more audience and growing in popularity are to be discussed, but the crucial thing is that the whole concept of the .ART big data approach underlines the importance of being online effectively in the current context. Consumer habits and technologies have changed. If you are not online, you simply don’t exist: most people can’t find you and enter your doors (geographic barrier), most items are hidden in storages (lack of walls and space), you are also invisible for AI and big data analysis that determine results in different ratings and studies.

Business rankings, reputation and PR are being moved to the online realm. Without understanding the importance of digital intelligence, the art industry may become irrelevant to the new generations of visitors, buyers and investors.

At some point, your digital presence becomes at least of the same importance as your physical one. As Elena Zavelev, the founder and CEO of the New Art Academy and the international contemporary and digital art fair CADAF, noted, “art rankings and online visibility are very important for both galleries and artists. Having a strong online presence creates a sense of security and legitimacy with the global buyers”.

Founder of .ART Ulvi Kasimov, explains: “Systems of art ranking that are currently in use can be best described as archaic, as they do not take into consideration the vast pool of data related to the popularity of art institutions or personalities online. This seems to be a significant oversight in the context of ongoing digital revolution. While developing its pricing model, over months of work and via billions of queries, .ART has created an effective algorithm that could be used to determine the popularity of art-related entities online. The .ART algorithm could become the foundation of an art ranking system truly reflective of its time”.

The .ART team had various conversations with galleries, artists and curators and it is absolutely evident: data is now a bona fide key driver of art retail, perhaps today to a greater extent than ever before.


Also published on Medium.

.ART Team
.ART Team
members are global citizens with interests ranging from art history to social justice. If we had an office cat we would have called it Basquiat.