Getty Images Launches Second Consumer Site

Posted on 1/8/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

JAM'D, a new consumer-targeted Web site from Getty Images, launched during the holidays without so much as a press release. Conceptualized by Getty CEO Jonathan Klein, JAM'D intends to fulfill the general public's desire to see the latest snaps of their favorite celebs.

Bridget Russel, director of corporate communications at Getty Images, says that the company is exploring opportunities to leverage its collection beyond the traditional business-to-business market. "After we acquired WireImage, traffic from consumers interested in our entertainment, sports and news images spiked dramatically... millions of people [are] visiting Getty Images' Web sites with no intention of licensing imagery," Russel said.

Changes within the stock industry, combined with growing popularity of online social networks and user-generated content, have highlighted the growth limitations of the traditional stock-licensing market. Stock companies and industry suppliers are looking to expand into the consumer space: Corbis and PicScout are testing PicApp, an ad-supported image-licensing model. Rival image-recognition company Idée adapted its image-recognition technology to help the popular social network Digg reduce duplicate content. Microstock FeaturePix offers a free blog-use image license, which promotes the for-sale inventory by linking images back to the Web site.

Getty Images is the first major player to develop its own consumer-facing products, though it does not appear to have a defined plan of action for either the earlier ViewImages or JAM'D. Russel says that the company wants to handle these properties differently from the rest of the business. "In the social networking world ... organic growth is more authentic," she said.

Most industry insiders would agree. Alan Meckler, CEO of the also-public Jupitermedia and father to a number of successful online properties, often says: "If a site does not grow virally, it will not grow at all."

Also launched without much fanfare and still sporting the "beta" tag, ViewImages receives more than 25 million page views per month, with no promotion. Russel also notes that it took iStockphoto five profitable years in business to issue its first press release. Getty Images wants to allow JAM'D to evolve on its own, much like popular social-networking sites.

In fact, JAM'D wants to be: an "interactive social network site that offers the public unique ways of searching and sharing their favorite pictures from Getty Images wholly-owned collection." JAM'D has all the requisite trimmings: gossipy articles, loads of celebrity pix, custom screensavers and multiple ways of interacting with like-minded users.

Though much of the editorial content on JAM'D is currently written by Getty's staff writers, Russel says the intent is not to compete with existing celebrity magazines or blogs. "We created JAM'D because people love images and want to talk about them with friends online." While other entertainment sites offer only one or two images of a celebrity at an event, Getty's research says consumers want deeper experiences. JAM'D can pull hundreds of images from Getty's inventory, answering this demand.

Though Russel refers to JAM'D as "proof of concept," one would never know it. The site is a fully operational social network in all its ad-supported glory. It is visually and technologically distinct, sporting a carousel image search created with Flash and Flex. The rest is built using Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. iStockphoto CEO and Getty Images senior vice president of technology Bruce Livingstone helped lay the groundwork.

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


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