You Can Get Free Images, But Do You Want To Run Someone Else’s Ads?

You Can Get Free Images, But Do You Want To Run Someone Else’s Ads?

Some online publishers may be celebrating the news. Getty Images is making about 35 million high-resolution photos free for non-commercial use online.

Non-commercial means your blog, too. That’s even if you have Google Ads or other advertising that’s making you money on your blog already. It even means a big publisher like The New York Times could embed images free of charge on its site and news apps.

But watch out! You’ll also be distracting visitors to your blog from the Google Ads that are hopefully making you money there.

That’s because Getty plans to monetize this free content by running display ads somewhere on the images. Getty Images Senior Vice President of Business Development,  Content and Marketing Craig Peters explained the plan in a recent interview. But he did not say exactly how ads would appear with free embedded photos.

Peters told the British Journal of Photography how it might be similar to the way Google Ads appear on embedded YouTube videos. So if you embed Getty Images, that’s basically like allowing someone else’s ads to appear on your website for free.

Ads aside, you shouldn’t forget. If you begin embedding free images from Getty, you may also be hurting other small business people. Those include independent photographers who took some of the photos in the first place and would like to get paid for their use.

Another stock photography startup,, reacted to the news with an “open letter” posted on the official PicFair blog. In the post, Founder Benji Lanyado insists that, despite the free images, demand for commercial photography from those willing to pay for its use, continues to grow.

However, Lanyado says in most cases photographers still aren’t paid enough for the images they create. He explains:

“The vast majority of the money paid for these commercial images does not go to the people who create them. On average, 74% of image fees go to the middlepeople. Yup, seventy…four…percent goes to anyone but the photographer.”

In a prepared statement on In Focus, an official Getty Images blog, Co-Founder and CEO Jonathan Klein said:

“Images are the communication medium of today and imagery has become the world’s most spoken language. Whether via a blog, website or social media, everyone is a publisher and increasingly visually literate.”

Based on mock-ups new embedded images might include the photographer’s name in a box below the photo. They would also include social sharing buttons. So your friends and connections could post them on social networks and even embed them on their own pages. A visitor clicking on the image would be directed to a Getty page where they could buy the image for commercial use.

Image: Wikipedia


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

6 Reactions
  1. I think that it depends on the blogger. Some bloggers will like this while others will not. That depends on the type of ads that the images will display. If it becomes too interfering, then it may be better off to just look for another website that provides free images.

  2. I’m uncomfortable with the advertising in that they haven’t made their plans totally clear yet. I’ve seen others compare it to ads in YouTube videos you might post. But, to the best of my recollection, those ads aren’t being plastered on your site with every pageview. They’re seen when someone actually chooses to view the video. An ad for Getty? Yes. And ad for third parties if site owners have no control (like the ability to remove certain advertisers in most ad networks), then it’s a concern.

    Perhaps the bigger concern is that it sounds like Getty would be able to pull these images at any time, potentially leaving countless articles and blog posts without images in the blink of an eye. Maybe I misunderstood something though. I hope so.

    In the meantime, I’m happy creating my own blog graphics, taking photos, and paying for stock photography when it makes sense. At least in those cases, you know exactly what you’re getting.

  3. From what I understand they’re using an iframe, so once it’s on your site they’ll be able to show just about anything they want. Great for Getty because it will allow them to rack up impressions for their ads, but perhaps a devil’s bargain for small websites.

  4. Martin Lindeskog

    Interesting news, but as Robert is saying, you could stuck with ad content you can not control.