Getty Images added embed icons to 35 million photos in their collection. Not all images are available for embed (look for the icon). Images are for non-commercial use only and you need to use their embed code which adds the frames you see below.
Unable to close the barn door, Getty material was finding its way online into Google Image search which crawled sites that had properly licensed the images. The explosion of social media has accelerated secondary use via “right-click/save” so this was largely Getty reading the writing on the wall.
Getty Images is smart to do this. By providing a superior image search to Google and a simple way for people to use their images, they gain control of their assets again and wrap some marketing around its use, taking advantage of free distribution that was already happening. All the embeds point back to gettyimages.com so it’s great for SEO and exposure for the vast selection they have available. Getty Images has also said they will collect data on where the photos are used to improve their service which adds an important crowd sourcing to their ranking algorithms. Finally, buried in the Terms of Service is, “the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.” The Nieman Journalism Lab ponders where Getty is going with this,
Aha! The data collected could have internal use (measuring what kinds of images are popular enough to invest in more stock photos, for instance). But they could also help with those ads. Imagine a day, five years from now, with Getty photo embeds all over the web, when they flip the switch — ads everywhere. Maybe there’s a photo equivalent of a preroll video ad and you now have to click to view the underlying image. Or a small banner on the bottom 90px of the photo.
And imagine your website has used a lot of Getty embeds over the years — enough that Getty can actually sell ads specifically targeting your website, using all that data it’s gathered. Or imagine there are enough Getty embeds that it could sell ads only on photos of Barack Obama, or only photos about Cajun music, or only photos about restaurants in Kansas City. You can start to see the potential there. Think of how many YouTube videos were embedded on other websites before Google ever started putting ads on them.
Embedded widgets used to be all the rage but they fell out of fashion as social networks became the place to share social objects. Getty is late to the game unless everybody gets sick of Facebook and fires up their own WordPress site. Notice how the sharing icons for the Getty Images are only for Twitter and Tumblr, the most open of all social networks.
Finally, what about all the folks that check the box on Flickr allowing their photos to be licensed by Getty Images like Phoenix Wang who took the photo above? Their works will now be used freely to help market the Getty service. On the plus side, clicks thru on the image will bring up options to license hi-res images for a fee so it’s not a total loss for the Flickr crowd. I wonder if the inclusion of the Tumblr share icon was a condition of including the Flickr photos in this deal?
The threat of ads running in the footer of the embed makes the service a non-starter for me but if you do want to use these images (which really are stunning), note that you can muck around with the width/height values in the embed code to change the dimensions of the image as I did below. It’s also possible to cover up the footer entirely but that would probably be frowned upon by the folks at Getty.