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Innovator Spotlight: Getty Images - New Revenue in New Markets Through APIs

Martha Jager
Oct 31, 2012


"Since we introduced our API, we're seeing new revenue in markets we couldn't have touched before and better customer retention in markets where we were already the predominant player."



Sarah Phillips
Director of Program Management
Getty Images

Getty Images is one of the world’s leading global digital content marketplaces for licensing still imagery, video and music content.  Getty Images is a critical intermediary between content providers and content consumers.

Sarah Phillips, director of program management at Getty Images, and Jack Grimm, director of application development, discussed Getty Images Connect and how it has opened up new markets for Getty Images.

How are you using APIs today?

SP: The Getty Images Connect service provides a suite of APIs that enable customers and partners to integrate Getty Images' core functionality and content directly within their publishing tools, mobile apps, products and services. 

JG: Getty Images Connect allows our partners to integrate Getty Images' rich search experience directly into their applications. This provides opportunities to give end-users more innovative and specialized experiences with our products than they could get through our previous delivery systems.

What need were you addressing with an API?

SP: First, we wanted to create new efficiencies within our existing customer base -- increase the volume of content that they are able to access and use, while at the same time decrease the manual workload.  We also recognized a thirst for content in markets that were not being served by traditional content licensing, such as blog and other platforms, web-based publishers and cloud-based services. 

Here is a real example.  I recently spoke with an innovative company offering marketing services to small business through an on-line platform.  They want to give their customers, who are not traditional image buyers, direct access to professional stock photography within a platform to enhance email campaigns, and share resulting licensing revenue with Getty Images. Getty Images Connect helps us improve efficiencies with our current customers and open up new markets for Getty.

How is the Getty API helping your customers innovate?

JG: We provide access to the same rich, fast search experience our web site customers love, and we let them use it in the way that makes the most sense for them.  For instance, you can get a relevant image of a specific celebrity on the red carpet at the Oscars from the click of the camera to your desktop in under a minute. That’s a powerful capability that the API makes more accessible.   

We’re also hopeful that Connect will give smaller organizations, individual developers and students an opportunity to explore what we have to offer in a more direct, playful way.

How has the Connect API helped extend Getty's business?

SP: Several years ago, the technology organization sponsored and built an API as a proof of concept.  Our sales team increasingly was asked about more efficient access to content to respond to the evolution in customer uses of content , and the business as a whole began to realize the enormous opportunity.

These days Getty Images Connect is at the forefront of our initiatives to drive growth.   For example, we now have the ability to work in a cost-per-view model in which we measure image views through our API and invoice accordingly.  Instead of licensing images the old way, we can now work with businesses who want to scale their costs for high quality content with their revenue growth.

JG: Getty Images Connect provides a reporting capability that is more in line with the way our customers are consuming content. We see great potential for our business.

How has your API strategy evolved over time?

SP: Five years ago, we tested the waters early and built a set of Web services.  It was purely a technology driven initiative and involved little formal customer outreach.  With the advent of Getty Images Connect, we have fully realized Connect as a key Getty Images service offering, with attendant sales, marketing, and developer support. 

What business benefits have you experienced as a result of your API initiative?

SP: Since we introduced Getty Images Connect, we're seeing new revenue in markets that were underpenetrated before and better customer retention in existing markets.

How do you work with Apigee?

JG: Our APIs are hosted by Apigee - the point of entry to for all our partners. When we did research on API providers, we looked at a few options. Apigee’s offering has what we need to manage our client base and move toward self-service. We're also using Apigee for client validation, spike arrest protection, and client request throttling. 

What is your vision for your API program moving forward?

SP:  We'd like to have all Getty Images products and services available through an API interface, so you can do with the API all that you can do on the website. We'll continue to adapt our business models, including Getty Images Connect, to leverage new opportunities.  Also, right now, we're extending the Connect platform to power the next generation of Getty Images mobile apps.

Any advice for those just starting an API Initiative?

JG: Expect change. Build your first offering, get people consuming it as quickly as possible, and work hard to gather input from your clients and use it to make the right changes. Learn what others are doing by getting involved in the API community and user groups.

SP: You've got to have very strong executive sponsorship. We had the SVP of Business Development behind our API program, and it was one of the top five 2012 initiatives for the Company. This let us focus on it and bring all the players we needed to explore new opportunities.

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