Beyond Metadata

We have been advocating the emergence of the “intelligent image” here for many years.  Images that are able to call back home to deliver pertinent data, images that can automatically find their way to the expecting viewers, images that can self edit according to viewership and a lot more.

Some aspects are already in circulation in one form or another. Companies like Fotoglif or Embedanything, for example, already allow licensors to track number of visits on a published image and eventually reap revenues from associated  advertising.

Daylife, partly owned by Getty Images, allows sites to bypass photo editors and have images edit themselves based on surrounding content.

Now, thanks to a company called Netbat ( What’s with all the horrible stupid names?),  images can be linked to any and all relevant information, thus making them even more informative.

The process is simple. When an image is published, it’s also populated with links with more information on the subject, being at Youtube, Wikipedia, or any other sources. Thus the image becomes the starting point for a relevant web-wide search on the topic.

The companies’ apparent business plan is to sell the search link space to advertisers so the topic/subject can be linked to a brand. Pepsi has already signed up. Instead of advertising on random images, netBat can make sure a brand is always associated to a personality or a topic and nothing more/less. It’s not a big surprise as Netbat’s parent company is in the business of selling celebrity endorsement. But that is not what is interesting here.

What is interesting here is how, once again, a company from outside the photography space, finds another way to monetize images . While countless of photo agencies and independent photographers are moaning and bitching about the declining space rates/ day rates/whatever rates being offered in the traditional licensing space, other companies are hard at work in redefining payed usage of photography.

NetBat, like Pixazza, another image monetizing company (this one partly owned by Google), has no intention of splitting revenues with image licensors. For them, once an image has been licensed by a publisher, the licensor is out of the profit sharing scheme.

Thing is, photo agencies should be the ones offering these services to their clients, not third party companies. It would make sense for a photo agency to offer a tool like NetBat which would allow visitors to go  beyond the metadata.  To transform their offering to a vast array of options that are up to pace with current and upcoming technology.

Currently, besides having painfully switched from analog to digital, none are being pro active in redefining image delivery and licensing. Some have timidly put a toe into third party initiatives but none have taken a full plunge into uncharted territory.

We are not saying netBat will be a success. Actually, it is so heavy, it is doubtful it will ever be. However, the idea of helping viewers to go beyond the image is a great concept. One that fits perfectly  with the unstoppable maturing of photography into an intelligent experience that can take you places far beyond it’s current solitary confinement.

About the author

This business has too many Surveyors and not enough Bohemians”  Roger Therond , legendary photo man, once said to a good friend of mine, Eliane Laffont. This blog is about restoring the balance and letting the Bohemians talk.

Paul Melcher has been named one of the “50 most influential individuals in American photography” by American Photo. He is currently senior vice president of the PictureGroup. He writes the Thoughts of a Bohemian blog

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

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