Advertising Uses 2.0

Posted on 10/24/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In the olden days (20th Century) when someone wanted to promote a product of service they placed an ad (that usually included a photo) in a magazine, newspaper or on TV. Many photographers were paid substantial fees for the use of their photos in these ads.

For the advertiser this system had at least one great disadvantage. Advertisers had no idea how many people actually looked at their ad. They might know how many copies were printed, but that told them nothing about the number of consumers who were actually interested in, or looked at what the advertisers had to say. Since them readership of magazines and newspapers has declined and print advertising has become more costly.

With TV, no one knows who is watching a program, or what their immediate interests might be so the answer has always been saturation in hopes that something will stick. This saturation has let to more advertising and less programming. In the 1960s there was about 9 minutes of advertising in an hour-long TV program. Now commercials take up 17 to 18 minutes of the hour. In Australia the TV networks want to go to 20 minutes per hour. This might appear to be a good thing for video producers (more ads need more product) but consumers ignore the vast majority of this marketing. More people are recording programs, rather than watching them live, so they can skip the commercials?

Social Media

Looking for alternative ways to reach consumers, advertisers have discovered social media. With social media it is possible to better target those with specific interests. Rather than being limited to the wide-ranging interests of a given publication it is now possible to target those who are interested in a particular story or post, and only pay when the picture is actually seen or the post read.

A look at the GumGum Gallery ( gives the reader an idea of how this works. Ads are attached to pictures. The ad may be a single image, a video or more things to click on. Rather than being embedded on a particular page, or within a story, as would be the case in a printed product, the image is served separately from a host server.

This makes it possible to change these ads on the fly. Multiple ads can be attached to a particular picture on a rotating basis. When a link to a free picture is first posted on a blog the blog owner has no idea, or control over, the kind of ad that will eventually be delivered next to that image. The organization that supplied the free picture totally controls future advertising as long as the picture is available on the blog.

Moreover, all blogger gets for delivering the ad is free access to the image. The blog owner may earn advertising revenue from other types of ads that appear on his blog, but nothing from the advertising connected to the image.

Will It Work

When Getty Images first started offering free photos for blog use six months ago I, and many others in the industry, were skeptical that bloggers would embed photos in this way given what they had to give up and the extra control they would have if they simply purchased use of an image for $1 or $2. We were definitely wrong. In six months Getty has embedded photos on more than 60,000 websites and has almost one billion page views. So far Getty has not started placing ads on these photos, but that is certainly part of their vision for the future.

It is interesting to compare these 60,000 downloads with Getty,s total “Creative Still Photo” purchases during a similar period. I estimate that total RM licensed for all types of use during a similar six-month period would have been about 250,000 and traditional RF licenses would have been about 600,000. It is easy to see how in the not too distant future embedded images could become a significant portion of all images Getty supplies to customers.

More interesting is the Bing Image Widget. While Getty offers access to 50 million images Bing is pulling from billions and would seem to have the potential to offer a much more comprehensive product to users. If Bing is given free rein, bloggers may embed many times the number of images as Getty embeds.

It is important to note that Bing has not proposed to sell adds beside its embedded product. In addition, Bing has temporarily removed the beta version of Bing Image Widget after Getty filed suit against them for copyright infringement. Nevertheless, Bing will surely try to find some way to revive this product. At the very least the Bing Image Widget should bring more users to Bing and it may eventually provide a significant source of revenue.

Why Is This Important To Photographers?

Professional photographers must recognize how photo uses are changing and find ways to adapt to the new advertising environment. When a particular photograph generates revenue a reasonable proportionate share should go to the image creator and there should be a clear understanding of what that share is.

In the old environment a photo was licensed based on the number of copies printed, or the size of the digital file delivered. In the new environment the people collecting the revenue will be able to track the exact amount earned from each embedded image. The compensation should be based on what each image actually earns, not some average that compensates all contributors equally.

Rather than waiting to be told what, if anything, they will be given photographers and their representatives need to be actively learning about this new market and making their voices heard about how they expect to be compensated for their efforts. It may take time before an significant revenue is generated, but the principles for fair compensation need to be established early.

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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