Getty Images

Robert Cookson

Big media companies owned by profit-hungry private equity groups don’t normally give their core products away for free.

But Getty Images, which was acquired for $3.3bn by Carlyle in 2012, is doing just that. The world’s largest supplier of stock photos has made more than 30m images available to people to share for free on their blogs and social media sites, including tumblr, WordPress and Twitter.

This is not charity, however. Behind the move lies cold commercial logic. It’s all about data, control and advertising. 

Robert Cookson

Getty Images, the world’s largest supplier of stock photos, has formed partnerships with two start-ups that help publishers transform online images into interactive adverts and virtual shopfronts.

The deals mark a big step forward for a new, highly-targeted form of advertising that Getty expects will become a significant source of revenues for news and magazine publishers.