Is Embedding The Future?

Posted on 10/23/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

One of the most interesting panels at the Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA formerly known as PACA) annual conference in New York this week was on “Opening New Markets Through Image Embedding.”

Back in March Getty Images launched its Image Embed Tool and made 35 million images available for free embedding on social media sites. That number has now jumped to about 50 million. Getty has said it is trying to reach out to the self-publishers who will never license images.

Craig Peters, Senior VP, Business Development and Content spoke at the conference and said that in 6 months images have been embedded on about 60,000 websites and they have had almost one billion page views. Peters was also quick to point out that they have no real idea as to how they are going to monetize this business.

What it really comes down to is that everyone believes is that the future of the Internet is in “Big Data.” The theory is that more people are looking at pictures and that depending on the subject in the picture you ought to be able to sell ads next to picture that would be of interest to that reader. These ads may appear, not just on commercial sites, but on all types of social media that happen to embed images.

To get an idea of how this works take a look at the GumGum Gallery and also look at the GumGum home page for more information about what they are trying to do.

Currently the rates for such ad placement is in the range of $5 per thousand views. Thus, at Getty’s current rate (assuming 2 billion views a year), and that will certainly grow, the revenue generated would be about $10 million or an average of $166 per embedded image. It is unclear what overhead costs are involved before Getty would get its share of that $10 million, and what royalty might be paid to a creator.

It would also seem that pictures of sports and entertain personalities (many of which Getty wholly owns) might generate a lot more views than a generic sunset or a great picture of a “woman working in an office on a computer,” or other generic business situations. In many cases the algorithm may also need to look, not just at the image, but at the text around it and the very nature of the particular web site to determine what kind of ad might be of interest to the viewer.

Personally, I’ve noticed that I’m seeing a lot more of these pop-up ads on the sites I look at. They usually annoy me. I usually click them off if there is an option to do so, which is not always the case. I also tend to jump off those sites entirely and go somewhere else that doesn’t have this feature. But, I’m one of these people who records TV shows I want to watch so I can click past the ads. Maybe the millennials love them.

One question is what happens when the GumGum strategy reaches a saturation point like television advertising has now? If there is a flood of advertising on social media sites that embed images will consumers turn to sites that pay $1 or $2 for the images they use rather than being distracted with all the ads. Where is the saturation point?

Peters also encouraged listener to think of this as an experiment. He said, “the goal is to build a great offering for customers.” Then they will try to figure out how to make money. He pointed to Facebook and how long it was before they began to make money. He said this is “not an 18 month game.” And using a baseball analogy he said, “we’re still working on the first out of the first inning.”

Copyright © 2014 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

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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