Apparently, Getty Images has decided to go after market shares in full force. In a seemingly coordinate worldwide effort, it has launched an all front offensive against any and all its competitors, no questions asked.  They now offer new low prices in exchange for being the sole provider . If a publisher agrees to only use Getty Images, and no one other, they get new preferred low pricing.

The competition is then offered to lower their pricing also, should they want to remain considered. What they are not been told is that even if they do decide to match those pricing, they will only be used when Getty Images cannot supply an image. Which is rare these days.

It seems that Getty Image is going all out for market shares and probably hopes to compensate for the lost income by increased volume. It is quite sure that they must have spend long hours calculating the probability and have studied many many charts. Thus, that their new policy is, at least according to their numbers, a profitable one.

A lot of Getty’s competition will suffer heavily from this. Mostly smaller size agencies that already have been living on the edge of their profit margins and do not have much or any exclusive content. The others, well, have a clear choice. Either stop believing that their salvation is in cheap volume of sales  and increase their rates, or die a slow painful asphyxiating death. Trying to hold down to the diving whale by matching pricing is a suicide swim.

The publishers, going through one, if not the worst period of their existence, cannot be more happy with such an offer. Why shouldn’t they not accept it ? Cheaper cost is always a welcome opportunity and Getty certainly has enough choice for the photo editors to pick from.  Where they are mislead is in multiple ways. The disappearance of some photo agencies will make some content disappear. Forever. It has already happen and will accelerate. Once competition is decimated, Getty will have free range to raise their pricing to monopolistic heights and publisher will have no other alternatives. Finally, the remaining agencies will be forced to charge premium prices for their exclusive content in order to compensate for the lost of usage.

There are no Anti Dumping laws in the USA. That is laws that forbids a company to sell products or services lower than what it cost them to produce. The reason is hidden somewhere in the strong belief in a free economy that balances itself and only crashes because of regulations. Also, it is believed that a company applying such practices could not sustain it for very long and thus either go bankrupt or be forces to raise its prices. There are however anti monopoly laws which Getty is heavily flirting with. Controlling all aspect of an industry, from production to distribution, is still illegal ( remember Rockefeller).

Getty seems (again, nothing is sure here) to have exported this model to Latin America and maybe other continents .It is also, if not entirely, affecting editorial content. As they probably have people sign a”non disclosure”, it might be hard to find out. The best way to know however, is to see if suddenly a magazine has only or mostly just one credit.

Not to cry but it is a sad time when photography is not viewed for what it is anymore but just another box of supplies in the production process. Because of the economy, photo editors have no voice anymore, as they cannot afford to loose their jobs.

It is also sad to see some of these publications, that rely so much on photography, treat it  so poorly.

The future landscape of image provider will be very interesting to gaze upon once all is said and done . Devastated, sure. Worse ? not so sure. There has been a lot ( too many ?) of comfort riders in this business for too long and that should kick them off the back of the jumping horse.  Can Getty get away with this ? depends. Some countries my find this predatory competition and block them from doing so. It is such a disorganized industry that by the time all the fragmented competition get together, Getty will have finished signing all contracts. Plus, there will always those who think they are super smart and will try to copy Getty’s new pricing scheme, not realizing its not for them.

” Remember that your aim is to achieve the highest dollar gross contribution margin, not make the highest volume sales. You would get 100% of the market if you gave the stuff away.” – Phillipe_M from WebmasterWorld

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3 Thoughts on “The year of the Predator

  1. Your comments sort of beg the question as to why a formal complaint isn’t made to the FTC in the US? If everybody is going bust, or shortly will be, then there is nothing to fear from a customer backlash. Nor indeed is there any poosbility for disappointment from Getty not buying one’s business, as it seems that they are not interested if you are correct – they are trying to put people out of business.

  2. “If a publisher agrees to only use Getty Images, and no one other, they get new preferred low pricing.”

    One possible problem — its old news.
    Contacted one of my competing stock agency in May’09 when first told the above by Getty contributor. My agency said no textbook publishers had stopped buying from them.
    Still true according to most recent commission reports.

  3. Jeff,

    glad it is old news to you. Questions is : what have you, or you agency done about it ?

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