Search Problems At Getty

Posted on 3/21/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Since the launch of Getty's new search engine last August, several image partners have become increasingly unhappy with the falloff in revenue their images generate and how low their images appear in the search return order.

In January, Getty acknowledged that immediately after launch the company noticed "that our orientation filters were not working optimally." Six months later, approximately one-third of the images on the site still cannot be located using an orientation search.

More serious is that images from the 122 image partners fall in the search return order, making it difficult to impossible for customers to see their offering.

To understand the problem's dimensions, I searched for "People" (1,275,762 hits), "Japan People" (19,235 hits) and "Travel Japan People" (2,842 hits). Then, I counted the number of images each brand had in the first six groups of 100 to determine the number of each brand's images that are seen.

The first surprise was that there are brands with significant people images in Getty's collection that do not have a single image shown in the first 600 of a "People" search. They are: Image Source (18,000), Glowimages (20,884), Ingram (9,758), Time & Life Pictures (5,414), Panoramic Images (3,104), Gulfimages (987), Hemis.fr (556), Nordic Photos (2,667), Robert Harding World Imagery (3,288), SAKIstyle (783), Sebun Photo (734), Imagemore (2,866), MedicalRF.com (157), Redchopsticks (8,506), Stock Illustration Source RM (7,603) and Stock Illustration Source RF (6,752) for a total of 91,969 images, over 7% of all people images on gettyimages.com.

Narrowing the search to "Japan People," Time/Life had (6) images, Stock Illustration RF  (1) and Glowimages (1) in the first 600. The rest of the above had none. In both the "People" and "Japan People" searches, 92 of the first 100 images were from the 17 brands Getty owns and only 8 images were from the 122 image partners. National Geographic is given a very preferred position among image partners with 5 of the 8 images being theirs.

In the first 600 of the "People" search, 396 were from Getty brands and 204 from image partners. In "Japan People," 305 were Getty brands and 295 image partners. Only 35 brands had any "Japan People" images. Only 18 of the 122 image partners had more than 2 images in the first 600. Of the 600 images 254 were RF and 346 were RM or RR.

Some companies with significant "Japan People" images got a very small percentage seen in the first 600, but the Getty brands were not always favored. If every brand had an equal share, 3% of their images would be shown.

Total images

First 600

Percentage

DAJ

4,233

28

-1%

Imagewerks

1,757

52

21%

Sebun

722

28

4%

Blend Images

470

4

-1%

National Geographic

285

58

20%

Image Source

265

0

0%

Robert Harding

118

6

5%

Glow Images

109

1

1%

Taxi Japan

1,682

31

2%

Stone

606

42

7%

Photog. Choice RM

123

12

10%

Photog. Choice RF

49

11

22%

In searching "Travel Japan People," 85% of the Japan People images didn't have Travel as a keyword. While not surprising because many people images are related to business or other general categories, reviewing the selection revealed that many of the best travel related images found under "Japan People" were omitted when travel was used as a keyword. This could be a fault of the image partner's keywording and not Getty.

When we included travel as a keyword 93 of the first 100 were from Getty brands. However, when we got above 200, we started seeing significant numbers of images from MIXA, imagewerks and Sebun. Many were similar, giving the general impression of a weak travel offering. There were (35) image partners with "Japan People" images, but only (22) had images in the first 600 when the "Travel" keyword was added. Of the 600 images, 515 were from the Getty brands, plus MIXA, imagewerks and Sebun. All the rest had very low numbers.

Another problem is that Getty allows the customer to look at a maximum 41 pages of search returns (100 images per page) or 4,100 images regardless of the number returned in the search. This may make sense in that few customers will look at 4,100 images. But the only way for a customer to look at 15,135 of the 19,235 Japan People images is to enter a qualifying keyword and hope it works. However, as we saw with "Travel Japan People," that doesn't necessarily produce better results.

It is interesting that iStockphoto and many other sites allow customers to order search returns in many different ways, enabling them to see images at the bottom of the pack in the default search order, if they choose. Some search engines allow customers to randomly input the number of the page they want to search.


Copyright © 2008 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 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

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