Corbis Outdoes Getty With $15 Web-Use Pricing

Posted on 4/24/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Corbis has launched a set of new tools that target interactive-ad creatives. Among these is a pricing plan that allows high-end royalty-free images from dozens of producers to be licensed for $15 to $95. While price reductions for online image uses have been sweeping the industry over several months, this is the first public announcement of a cost as low as $15 from a major player. Nearly 500,000 royalty-free images from Corbis' own RF collection and those of zefa, MedioImages, Ron Chapple and Cultura, are currently available within the above range.

Or are they?

As most other traditional stock retailers, Corbis does not offer buyers an option of sorting search results by price. Finding a $15 image on the Corbis Web site proved too time-consuming, given a 15-minute investment and a live chat with a customer service representative. A callback from the rep had not happened at press time. A random check of 10 among over 3,000 Cultura images, from 10 equally random pages among the 62 returned by the search engine, revealed Web-use pricing of $95 for all 10.

In this context, a skeptic might conclude that the $15 offer is more of a PR ploy than an effort to service the budget shopper. Corbis spokesperson Dan Perlet confirms that the announcement was, in part, intended to let creatives know of the cost-effective content available through the Bill Gates-owned company. "We did not feel that customers were aware of it," he said.

However, Perlet also points to significant differences between the Corbis price plan and Getty Images' $49 Web-use license, the initial version of which had caused an industry-wide uproar. Though $15 is the lowest pricing ever to be advertised by any of the Big Three, Perlet stresses that the Corbis pricing strategy is not new and takes into consideration the concerns expressed by photographers and organizations that objected to Getty's controversial move.

Corbis had previously offered Web-use licenses and was the first to market with a 640-kylobyte-file size in 2002. The company followed Getty with a recent price reduction, but only for royalty-free images and select collections. According to Perlet, these included wholly owned imagery and that of several partners with pre-negotiated agreements that allowed Corbis to adjust pricing as the company saw fit. As such, Perlet is not particularly concerned about potential supplier backlash. "We informed them of the change, but did not need to ask their permission," he said.

In addition, the Corbis Web-use pricing plan is fluid, having been revisited several times as the industry continues to evolve. "We had the opportunity to observe and think about this [in a market where] demand for Web imagery is soaring," said Perlet.


Beyond low-cost royalty-free images, Corbis currently offers interactive creatives over 30,000 rights-managed video clips and thematic royalty-free CDs of clips for Web-based uses. The company has packaged options for interactive uses of rights-managed imagery. Such uses include Web-only video commercials, Webisodes and mobile ads. Also available are packages that allow combined use on television, online and in mobile applications.

Beyond pricing

Corbis' most recent push for ad business, which remains the most lucrative segment of the stock-buyer market, also includes a range of new or expanded services and resources. One example is the extended hours of the Corbis contact center, now open between 8:30 am and 9:00 pm Eastern.

Another addition is the release of Corbis Keyword Guide, available in both hard copy and online. The guide augments the company's Creative Keywords program, designed to improve search results by combining the latest cultural slang with relevant imagery. Recently added keywords include "skippie," the new moniker for school kids with income and purchasing power, and "multislacking," which defines combining unproductive technological activities, such as instant-messaging and listening to an iPod at the same time.

Though not helpful in the quest for a $15 image, Corbis' new live Web-chat service is also noteworthy. The application is compatible with PCs and Macs and does not require software downloads or installation. Discussions are private and secure, and users can record them and print out transcripts for future reference. The service is available in English, French, Dutch, Italian, German and Spanish to customers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

"We are again leading the way in customer service by becoming the first major stock photography company to introduce this service," said Ivan Purdie, Corbis senior vice president of sales and service. Getty Images' Web site recently began offering live-chat functionality; however, today's press release boldly claims that the new Corbis service is "the first of its kind among major stock photography companies."

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


  • Steve Pigeon Posted Apr 25, 2008
    Congratulations to Corbis, but "live web-chat" is yesterday's news. Masterfile launched "LiveHelp" eight years ago on which, in fact, makes us the first. And it's still prominently featured on our home page.

    Steve Pigeon, President
    Masterfile Corporation

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