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How iStock aims to enhance its offerings with generative AI

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How iStock aims to enhance its offerings with generative AI


Getty Images recently integrated the technology of the day into one of its premier products, launching Generative AI by iStock. 

The company looks to attract the reported 42 percent of SMBs and SMEs already using AI-generated content with the new tool that is powered by NVIDIA Picasso, a custom machine learning model.

To ascertain Getty’s ambitions in entering the AI game, Marketing Mag spoke with Grant Farhall, chief product officer at Getty Images.

Marketing Mag: What are the benefits for marketers of using Generative AI by iStock?

Grant Farhall: Generative AI by iStock is tailor-made for small businesses and individual creators, to give them an affordable, commercially safe, legally protected and easy-to-use option to explore the power of generative AI. 

One of the biggest benefits is that iStock’s generative AI tool not only ensures the images look great, but since it has only been trained on our creative library, and nothing outside that library, you can’t generate visuals that contain elements that would violate intellectual copyright, resulting in an offering that it is safe to use for commercial purposes. Also, it’s legally indemnified, as each generated image licensed comes with iStock’s standard US$10,000 legal coverage. In addition, visuals generated by our customers using Generative AI by iStock are not added to iStock’s creative library for others to license. 

These unique, high-quality images are perfect for ideation and visualising highly creative concepts that are more difficult to capture by traditional techniques. Additionally, the generated images can be used to identify and locate visuals from our libraries through reverse image search, ensuring the highest levels of authenticity, realism, and resolution when needed. 

The service is priced at $22.99 for 100 prompts, with each prompt generating four unique visuals. Every image generated can be downloaded with the same royalty free licence and legal indemnification that you receive when licensing from iStock’s vast pre-shot library, for no additional cost. Generative AI by iStock is a simple and affordable way for users to start experimenting with using AI-generated content in their creative process, in a safe manner. This allows marketers to allocate their budgets more efficiently and explore a broader range of creative possibilities, enhancing the impact and effectiveness of their visual content in various marketing channels, whether that’s print marketing, social posts, online promotions and more.

: How does the creative potential of a generative AI tool that has only been trained on one company’s creative library stack up against that of market-leading AI programs? 

GF: We’re not thinking about competing tools, we’re thinking about what we’ve heard from customers over the last year and what they are looking for: a commercially safe and viable product that they can use to ideate and create in their work. Our goal has always been to be at the forefront of creativity – and we believe this tool will allow us to remain there. That’s because it is built with content that is safe to use, and we’re partnered with one of the leaders in AI innovation to build it: NVIDIA.  

Not all other AI generator services and tools automatically include legal protection. For example, one of our competitors is requiring that individual outputs be reviewed by their Rights and Clearance teams in order for assets to be offered with full or partial indemnity to a select group of customers. In addition, other services are only offering indemnification to enterprise customers or upon request. 

What is unique about our service is legal protection is included with any licensed download. Also, our model is transparent on training, is not subject to training data risk, and compensates artists for training on a recurring basis. 

MM: What are the potential risks of using other generative AI tools?

GF: Marketers and creators could end up with content in their marketing campaigns that violate IP rights. 

We know that there’s interest from businesses to use AI images in their projects but there’s concerns around their use and legality, particularly when it comes to copyright issues. To think of it in a simple way, because Generative AI by iStock was only trained on our creative imagery, our AI model does not know who Taylor Swift or Spongebob Squarepants is, or what a Nike swoosh represents, and therefore cannot create visuals that contain those types of elements which could create legal risk if used for commercial purposes. In addition, the AI service does not allow users to generate visuals in the style of named artists, to protect artists’ rights and their intellectual property. 

We’ve worked with NVIDIA to train a custom model exclusively on our creative visuals and proprietary data, to create commercially safe models and outputs. 

MM: In what ways has the stock photography industry been affected by the rise of generative AI?

GF: For many marketers and creators, generative AI has created possibilities for them to create content that would otherwise be too expensive or near impossible to produce logistically. One example I gave recently, is using generative AI to create a brand new image of penguins marching down Broadway in New York City to depict climate change. A coordinated photoshoot involving hundreds of penguins is logistically impossible to execute in real life, and this is where generative AI can offer a creative solution for creators. 

At the same time, the challenges and risks for the creative ecosystem need to be managed. We believe that generative AI should enhance, not replace, photographers, artists and creators’ work. Therefore, it needs to be used in a way that is commercially safe and done in a way that compensates contributors.


MM: How do high-quality visuals elevate marketing materials more than simple, free images?

GF: In the current landscape marked by the prevalence of AI, image manipulation, deep fakes, information overload, and technology saturation, we recognise that authentic visual storytelling remains a pivotal avenue for establishing trust between businesses and consumers in 2024.

Drawing on our proprietary VisualGPS research, we find a resounding 98 percent agreement among consumers regarding the significance of ‘authentic’ images and videos in the trust-building process. As we navigate into 2024, we steadfastly uphold the belief in the potency of creativity and authenticity, qualities best conveyed through the expertise of our esteemed creators and partners. We view AI as an augmentative tool, rather than a substitute for the human connection that is most effectively communicated through human creation.

In alignment with these principles, our objectives for 2024 underscore a commitment to continue listening to our customers’ needs. We are dedicated to delivering comprehensive solutions through our diverse offerings, which encompass our pre-shot library of images and video, Generative AI by iStock, enhanced search features and more.

All images generated with Generative AI by iStock and supplied.

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Ned Lupson

Ned Lupson is an Assistant Editor at Niche Media.

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