A recent Gartner survey showed that banking and retail are two of the most developed industries for Big Data. The transactional elements of these industries makes it’s integration more obvious, but there are some industries where you would not expected Big Data to have permeated yet.
One of these would be image licensing. Although there are elements of big data such as tagging and some image recognition, in reality suggestion engines are as far as you would think it could go.
However, Getty Images, one of the world’s largest image repositories, has taken the unlikely step by creating a new way of using Big Data.
In response to the widespread unauthorised use of their images on blogs and social media around the internet, they needed to look at news ways of monetizing their content. The only real way that they previously had to combat this was through the use of lawyers and the threat of legal action against people who have breached their copyright. The issue with this was the complexities of the cases as well as the sheer number of images that this would have had to cover (some estimates put the number in the millions).
Therefore a new strategy was necessary.
The new strategy is for them to allow users to use the images on their website for free, but in order to do so they need to embed them with a code prepared by Getty. The code at the moment is relatively dormant but in future could have a multitude of uses.
It could be utilised in future to place adverts (much like the ads before Youtube videos) which would add an additional revenue to Getty and bring them into a new online model.
However, the most interesting aspect is that the code could also be used to monitor the data of the page visitors. Given the number of websites that this could potentially feature on, this could see Getty becoming a major player in the data world.
How this data will be used and more importantly how it could be monetised is not known, but the volumes that this could potentially create will make it an impressive data aggregator.
One aspect that this data could be used for is targeted advertising, something that would clearly work well with the commercial aspect that these pictures will have. This would certainly bring it in line with other online advertisers like Yahoo, Google and Facebook where metadata is used to customise the ads you are seeing, with the breadth of sites that this could effect, this could be even more effective.
This decision by an online image licensing company is certainly a bold move and will be a marker for how other companies can utilise big data in non-traditional ways to improve their offerings or include additional revenue streams.