The Future of Publishing
To the left is an image of a certain Mr Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet. It was taken earlier today by a Professional Photographer in Germany working for Zumapress - a major photo agency. What is unique about this image is that it didn't cost me a penny, and it's totally legit.
The model is straightforward but revolutionary. I signed up today for an account with Fotoglif, browsed up to the minute photos from the likes of Getty Images, Splash and Reuters, grabbed an embed code and embedded it on my blog. It comes with a small Google ad underneath, and the proceeds are split 50/30/20 between the rights holder, Fotoglif and the publisher (that's me).
For any web publisher just starting out - this levels the playing field. Traditional photo licensing of newsworthy images can cost hundreds of dollars per photo. Kind of hard to start a celebrity news blog unless you have deep pockets.
Not any more...
Fotoglif is not the only startup in this space. GumGum has been licensing photos on an ad-supported and CPM basis for about a year, and an Israeli startup PicApp offers a similar thing. But at the moment very few bloggers and publishers are aware of this concept, and it is certain to get bigger with time.
What I find interesting is that Google are clearly doing a special arrangement as it is possible to have any number of Google Adsense supported images on a single page. Just look at the Fotoglif blog for an example. Normally Google restricts ads to a maximum of 3 per page.
What I also find interesting is the wider context of ad-supported content gaining traction. Technology trends typically follow a text-image-audio-video cycle and it is thus inevitable that branded audio and video content, perhaps the latest Amy Winehouse single, an episode of 24, or one day a Hollywood movie, will become readily available to web publishers to carry on their sites for free, while getting a slice of the ad revenue.
Around the same time a new concept of Viewer Controlled Advertising is likely to take hold, where the consumer can choose the level of advertising they wish to tolerate. Lots of ads? Get paid to watch the content. No ads - you pay.
Some fascinating opportunities for entrepreneurs are around the corner...
UPDATED 09/09/09: Since writing this post a number of problems with the Fotoglif service have seemed to appear. People reading this post in Google Reader were getting a grey rectangle in place of the image, same in Outlook, and more seriously the Fotoglif server seemed to be slowing down my blog's home page significantly. This is unacceptable and for that reason I have replaced the code with a screenshot marked 'screenshot' for now. If I hear from Fotoglif with a reasonable explanation then I may change this.