TechCrunch reports (here)–then I received an email from one of the founders–on the launch of a new company called GumGum (here) that allows people to license images on a cost per impression basis. This is the way images are licensed in the print world so it only makes sense that they should go that way online. This is such a brilliant idea for photographers and very similar to one I was trying to work on after leaving NY, but never got anywhere with, so I’m glad someone beat me to the punch.

If you don’t want to pay the cpm the photographer is offering they give you the option to serve advertising either on the image or as a pre-roll to the image instead.

Either way the photographer gets paid. How’s that sound to you?

Watch the video here on how it works:

The cool thing is how easy it is for someone to license an image from you. It reminds me of what Apple did with music.

It’s just the beginning for this technology but I’d like to see widgets photographers can put on their site that will take me to a licensing area with only their images. Also, they’re really going to need powerful search and keywording technology similar to what Corbis and Getty use if they want to make the service worthwhile for publishers but that’s where I think using google to search for images and then to license could be a powerful combination for the future.

I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

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  1. Rob,

    Just yesterday afternoon, the PhotoShelter Collection released a widget that PSC contributors can place on their own websites, blogs, Facebook profile page as well as a number of other sites and cycles through a slide show of their images. By clicking on an image you are taken directly to that image on the PSC site where it can be licensed. Also, anyone can click on the “Get & Share” tab of the widget to place on their own site or blog. Very viral.

    I haven’t got it installed on my website yet but, you can see an example on my blog at and there is a bit more info here .

  2. That seems totally different. The widget serves watermarked images randomly. I just tried to license one of yours and there’s no blog category. I selected web/magazine and it’s a flat fee for the use, $177. That’s the problem with traditional pricing on the web, it doesn’t take into account the size of the publication like the print pricing does.

  3. Very cool and apparently quite easy to replicate a similar technology

    It is the business model that is genius

    I wonder if you can nick the embedded code so that you can nick the content someone has bought and have THEM pay for it !

    I wonder what the going rate will be – 20cents per 1000 impressions ?

    Sounds a bit low – who knows

    As a photographer you would need 500,000,000 impressions to make $100k per year (I think I got the maths right) – is that realistic ?

    The idea could also be reversed so users pay for content (after a warning) – I would be very happy to pay, for instance, 1cent, maybe even 10cents to visit a page at APE – I would never, however subscribe for say $100 per year

  4. Saw this on TC last night and left a comment there. I think the idea is brilliant–though, I’m not sure Flash is the best way. I guess if you need to run pre-roll ads.

    Seems to me like most of the images on there are paparazzi type. Are they trying to extend this to photojournalists? Citizen journalists?

    How do you see this working/extending to comm/editorial photogs?

    My main issue is with Flash and mobile device access …

  5. @ 3. Sam: I don’t think it’s low. We paid photographers $600 for an image to run in a magazine with 2,500,000 impressions.

    @4. Erik: I think the paparazzi stuff is a logical place to start and make money. It easily extends if people can quickly find and pay for the images they’re looking for. The flash problem can be solved. I just started getting youtube videos on my phone so they must have figured something out.

  6. Hey guys,

    This is Ophir from GumGum. Thanks for the great post Rob. Love the discussion going on here. To speak to some of the reader comments/questions:

    – @3. You cannot steal the embed code and have the publisher that licensed it pay for it. We’ve built authentication technology that protects against this. Go ahead and try to grab the embed code from the source of a page and put it on your own blog. You won’t be able to access the photo that way (you will reason a notification telling you that it is unavailable). When licensing an image through GumGum we ask publishers to specify where the license will be used. This is what is authenticated against. Good thinking though! :)

    – @3. Good question regarding the going rate. Our discussions with content-owners seems to have placed things between $.20 and $.50 for the time being. At the end of the day, the market should find a good equilibrium point. Don’t forget that even higher CPM’s are generally there to be had with the [video] ad overlay option.

    – @4. Erik – Flash is a good medium for what we are doing because you are able to display dynamic content in Flash – most importantly for ads, but also things like watermarks and whatever photographer’s may want in the future. I agree with you re: the mobile aspect, but we expect that this will take care of itself in good time. Beyond this, we have some potential interim solutions being kicked around.

    -@4. We want all licensable content to flow through GumGum as we believe it’s the best way to license content online. We are starting with entertainment photography agencies for strategic reasons as Rob noted, but we absolutely want sports, politics, citizen journalism, photojournalists, etc. The site is open and running now and anyone is free to use it to license their media!

  7. @5 We paid photographers $600 for an image to run in a magazine with 2,500,000 impressions

    I said ‘who knows’ it was a question

    That is about the same, .024

    In the uk one could expect $400 for a mag with 100,000 ‘impressions’/circulation- twenty times higher

    Although ‘impressions’ does not equal circulation – I think that average mag is viewed by 2.5 people or some thing meaning impressions is at tleast 2.5 times circulation

    When one sells to a mag one obviously get guarenteed ‘impressions’ from the publisher – but this is a big disincentive to publishers from publishing – there is no way I could afford to start a ‘web magazine’ using traditional pricing

    Fundamentally a great concept IMO

  8. @Ophir

    Wonderful idea for Web licensing. I see all kinds of possibilities here.

    One thing… your search function has some issues.
    Go to image browse page, cursor over an image to see tags/descriptions/keywords, use one of those words in the search box top right… nada.

    I’m looking forward to see how this goes. It’s a great idea.

    Take care,
    Gregg Zivney

  9. > This is the way images are licensed in the print world
    > so it only makes sense that they should go that way online.

    I see a potential problem with this model. The print world and the online world just don’t work the same. In the print world, the publisher knows beforehand what his print run will be. The licensing for a photo is a known quantity that can be budgeted and planned for. Whereas online, your traffic can fluctuate wildly. Imagine you licensed a photo for a little story, that then got posted on Digg and Slash-Dot. Your traffic could go through the roof, generating a huge unexpected increase in the licensing fees. Unless this is solved, I think many publishers would be wary to try it.

  10. yeah you should be able to limit how much you will pay and the photo will turn off. Ophir, hook that up if it isn’t already.

  11. – @8. Gregg – Search is re-indexed every 10 minutes so you wouldn’t have received any search results for your query if the image had just been uploaded.

    – @9. Daniel – This is a common initial conception, however I actually disagree with it. Let me explain why: On the Internet value is realized over time. Unlike in the print media world, web pages are monetized by publishers indefinitely (an ad sold in a magazine is a one time payment, ads on web pages are monetized as long as that web page exists and is being visited). If 100 people visit a page on day 1 and 1,000,000 people visit the page on day 2 then the blog owner will have made significantly more ad revenue on day 2 (and he would also have paid more for his licensed content). This is why GumGum works so well. Not only does it eliminate barriers to entry for new publishers it also scales perfectly because a publisher will always be making a good deal more off of ad his ad revenue then he is paying for licenses. Also, it is entirely likely that the a photograph licensed through GumGum *is the reason* a page sees increased traffic (this is certainly often the case with entertainment type photos and many others). So basically, more traffic is good for everyone – publishers get paid more, content-owners get paid more. Make sense?

    – @9/10. You can set budgets on GumGum. Once a given budget limit has been reached we seamlessly switch the license from pay-per-use to ad-supported. Content-owners get paid all along the way, publishers get to keep using the media with either model. That works, right?

    Happy to tend any more questions/suggestions/concerns and let me know if you have any disagreements with the notes above.

  12. My only problem is the dumb dumb name.

  13. – @12. Well, if that’s your only problem with the service then I’m pretty glad with the turnout!! :) Hope everyone has a good weekend.

  14. This is a cool idea. Are there any big sites licensing images, yet?

  15. Eric – Sure, who isn’t?,, etc. etc. – essentially any legit online publication licenses images.

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