LONDON, United Kingdom — More than the world’s most famous photographic agency, Getty Images has evolved with the internet age, tapping data driven insights and a global network of renowned photographers to create content that stands out from the crowd. The agency has sat in the vanguard of the photo-media business throughout the explosion of celebrity culture, the globalisation of sporting events and the onset of the internet age — which has multiplied commercial content requirements exponentially.
Drawing on over two decades of experience, Getty Images possesses a unique understanding of content creation, which it is now sharing with clients as both a consultant and creative partner. From selecting creative talent that inherently reflects its partners’ brands, to crafting the visual identity of global events such as the World Cup and the Olympics, Getty Images employs a left and right brain approach to ensure its content is not only effective and engaging, but authentic and visually captivating.
Now the company is augmenting its operations and content with innovative new technologies and increasing specialisation in its workforce. From 360 VR teams, to entire departments dedicated to mining real time visual data for market and consumer insights, Getty Images is re-orientating its business to offer new tools to its partners and provide new solutions to the novel challenges they face.
BoF sits down with Kirstin Benson, Getty Images’ vice president of global entertainment, to discover some of the insights that access to hundreds of millions of images equip the company with and how Getty Images is continuing to transform its business.
How does Getty Images approach partnerships?
Our partners face many challenges today, not the least of which is visibility. Getting your message heard and breaking through the clutter is harder than it’s ever been — gone are the days when you can afford to spend time and money throwing ideas against a wall and praying that they’ll stick. Budgets and timelines are more constrained than ever. We help our partners achieve differentiation efficiently and effectively. Not only that, we’re also helping our partners prove the value of the content that they are commissioning. Original content is expensive and time consuming, which means it’s often one of the first things cut from budgets and plans. The more we can help our partners demonstrate a return on their investment, the better off we will all be.
Partners also need bigger content libraries than ever before, because they have numerous channels that they must programme. In the world of social media, where everyone is a content creator with a platform, our partners are increasingly realising the importance of having quality content to help them break through the noise. That’s something that we can and do help them achieve.
What distinguishes Getty Images as a visual partner to the fashion industry?
It’s actually multi-faceted. Today, we can capitalise on Getty Images’ unique access, the sheer breadth of our coverage and our market-leading ability to move content incredibly quickly. Our speed to market is unprecedented — from camera to client in less than a minute.
But it’s not just about speed and breadth, it’s about also delivering high creative standards. Our content creators are constantly pushing themselves to shoot something unique, that nobody has seen before. All these factors make for a unique, differentiated combination.
How does this reflect the needs of the fashion industry?
The fashion industry has shifted. Immediacy is the key driver and content needs to move very quickly. It also needs to look different. Today, brands have to tell one story in ten different ways — which also means that you need ten different pieces of content in a variety of formats. The Getty Images team collaborates with partners to develop strategies that will hit all those different functions. From there, we utilise our internal operations and our breadth as a company to bring those strategies to life for our clients in a way that’s turnkey, reliable and creative.
Getty Images works most effectively with partners when we are brought in early in their processes — at the content strategy phase. We understand that it’s not just about having the best or the most talented or the widest, biggest breadth of creators, but about pairing the most relevant creators with a brand to make the desired impact. Helping our clients meet their business goals through sophisticated visual strategy stretches beyond the content itself — it’s about the content creator, the delivery mechanisms, the e-distribution behind it, and then the learnings that you’re able to take away from the project.
How are data insights transforming Getty Images’ commercial offering?
We are now able to build reports for our clients to deliver insight into their questions around content. For example, which pieces of content resonate in which regions? Which personalities are most popular? The list is endless depending on your goals. We’re able to highlight trends that show which imagery is resonating with consumers, helping our partners not only shape their events, but shape their future content strategies and who they align themselves with in the community; be it influencers, celebrities or sports stars.
How does the company maintain high creative standards?
Constant innovation. Our photographers continually push themselves to shoot in new and different ways, with new equipment. Top brands and talent use the Getty Images team in high pressured situations. So, whether it’s going on tour with Beyoncé or shooting for Gucci, our partners know that when they work with us, they’re going to get the content they want and the results that they need.
What excites you about the future at Getty Images?
Getty Images has pioneered visual trend research for more than two decades — it’s thrilling that we are now able to take those insights from our research and apply it to commissioned content creation for our partners. Combining this creative insight, data interrogation and cutting-edge visual technology with its unparalleled access to an archive of over 300 million assets including images, videos and audio; it’s exciting to see how Getty Images will continue to evolve its offering to better service its partners’ needs.