Would your company benefit from a contest in which customers compete to take the best promotional photo of your product?SnapMyAdis betting that this customer engagement will be prized.

Would your company benefit from a contest in which customers compete to take the best promotional photo of your product?SnapMyAd is betting that this customer engagement will be prized.

SnapMyAd is a new iPhone application that allows companies to set up photo contests through the photo-sharing social network Instagram. "We are really an accessory to the Instagram experience," says Josh Lee, founder and CEO of Pennsylvania-based SnapMyAd.

Lee came up with the idea of SnapMyAd while on a trip to Florida with his wife. Impressed with his airline's performance during a storm, he snapped a photo of the airplane and uploaded it to his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. "That's when I had the aha moment. I realized that what I had uploaded was essentially an ad," said Lee. Believing that brands would want to have access to this type of content, Lee told his wife "Why can't we create something like that?"

Companies ask SnapMyAd users to create their own ads using smartphone photos. Users upload their pics to the companies' contests on the SnapMyAd app, where the public can view and vote on their favorites. The winners-- selected by the companies or by getting the most likes--receive a prize. In exchange, winners give companies the right to use their submitted photos in whatever way they choose.

"Our goal is to be the place to go for photo promotions," explains Lee. "The engagement has been great so far. We were surprised by how many people would compete for a $20 Amazon gift card."

The prize can be anything the company chooses, but Lee explains that the participation itself is the reward for many. "I noticed that some people kept submitting photos within an hour of a deadline." While these users would not have much chance to garner enough votes to win, Lee says they "enjoyed being part of the promotion and didn't care as much about the prize."

Considering Instagram's current popularity and the fact that the social network does not yet display ads, advertisers do have an opportunity to reach a nearly untapped audience. The most valuable prize for the advertiser might not even be the photo, but rather the social media engagement with their brand stimulated by the contest itself.

Lee's application has been available for about two months, but just recently received widespread attention after being featured in the technology news website, Mashable. "We haven't spent a dime on marketing yet," says Lee, "that article propelled us into a whole new stratosphere."

According to Lee, the company's future plans for the app include adding analytics tools, allowing the companies to understand more about their customers, and categorization, allowing promotions to be compartmentalized by subject and location.