Check Out Google Images Search And Licensable Badge

Posted on 9/25/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In my previous story about the Google Licensable Badge I made a mistake about when the badge would actually go live. It actually started appearing on the site on 31 August 2020.

It will be interesting to see how much Google’s new Licensable Badge will help or hinder stock photo sales. To test it I did a search for “Office Workers.” Then you are given several options including one for “Clip Art” which seems to be all illustrations. and another for “Stock Photos”.  I clicked Stock Photos and among the options given are “Royalty Free” and “Stock Photography”.

Royalty Free gives you images from all the usual suspects, but I found it interesting that it also gives some images from Pinterest. They are not marked as “Licensable” or “Product” so one might assume they are free to use. I’m not sure that was the intent of the person who posted the image.

Moving on to the “Stock Photography” option I got some interesting results. One might assume that all these images are from agencies and that most of them would be trying to license use to the images in their collections. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

In the first 100 images shown I found the following:   
    9 from Dreamstime; 9 from Deposit Photos; 8 from 123RF; 8 from Alamy; 7 from Shutterstock; 5 from CanStockPhoto; 4 from Pinterest; 4 from GettyImages; 3 from iStock; and 1 from AdobeStock Photos
The rest were from a mixture of other suppliers, but only about 28 for the first 100 were listed as “Licensable.” In fact, the first image shown was from Dreamstime and it had no indication it at all that it needed to be licensed. I guess it is free to use. One of the images from Getty was not listed as licensable while the other 3 were. None of the CanStockPhoto images had a “Licensable” listing, but they all had CanStockPhoto in the space where Licenseable would normally appear.

A number of the 123RF images had a “Product” listing. I thought that was supposed to mean the image had been found on a Product Listing Ad, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in at least for image based on what is being shown.
As I understand it, Image search is considered part of the Google Search Network. If your Shopping campaign is opted in to Search partners, Product Listing Ads (PLAs) will automatically be eligible to show in image search results.

One third of the first 100 images shown had no indication on them of being “Licensable” or a “Product.” I would think most people searching for image on Google might think the images were free to use however they wished. Certainly some of them were on free image sites, but the one AdobeStock image had no badge on it and I hope user don’t think that image is free to use.

If you go back to “Stock Photos”, “Stock Photography” category you can also find options to search just images from Depositphotos, Shutterstock, or Dreamstime. If the user chooses any of those options the user only finds images from that particular agency. However, a number of images in these searches are not marked as “Licensable.” It is unclear what that means. Is it just that the algorithm is not working efficiently, or do the agencies actually mean that some of the images they are showing and don’t have to be licensed?

All this may just be growing pains of a new algorithm and it may get sorted out in the next few months, but it seems unclear as to what is free and what isn’t.

Other information that may be useful in understanding where this is all headed is the Quick guide to IPTC Photo Metadata and Google Images including the use of metadata fields relevant for the Licensable badge.

Copyright © 2020 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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