Kelkoo CEO: Google is ‘screwing’ entire online shopping industry

From Politico

— By Nicholas Hirst

The head of one of Europe’s leading price comparison websites, Kelkoo, said it’s in danger of going under next year unless the European Commission takes market-stabilizing action in its six-year case against Google Shopping.

“We might not even survive another 18 months if there is not a decision soon,” Richard Stables, Kelkoo’s chief executive, warned in an interview Tuesday.

Stables accused Google of willfully destroying a series of budding online businesses and threatening to demote rivals that objected. Foundem, the first shopping website to formally complain about Google to the Commission, closed in December.

“This is about Google screwing over an entire industry and actually really hurting consumers,” added Stables, who said he decided to speak out because “we have got to the point where we have nothing left to lose.”

However, he said it was up to the Commission to decide what solutions would restore fair competition.

Google did not respond to a request for comment, but has vigorously resisted the Commission’s accusations it hurt competition. The Commission could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Commission opened its investigation in November 2010 and formally accused Google of hurting competition in the online price comparison space in 2015. The charges were updated last year. Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner for competition, told the European Parliament last month she was doing her “utmost” to wrap up the probe.

Citing documents released erroneously by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Stables said Google had pursued a strategy to eliminate emerging rivals like Kelkoo since as far back as 2004. That included demoting comparison shopping websites in Google search results and luring away advertisers with the promise that they would appear in Google’s product search for free — only for Google to start charging once they had seized the market, Stables claims.

Stables also said Kelkoo’s subsidiary LeGuide had objected to Google scraping content like reviews. He claims Google responded that it would push the site down its search results if LeGuide resisted.

The price comparison sector has struggled over the past decade, forcing companies to sell off divisions and rivals to consolidate and stay afloat. After being snapped up for large sums, European websites Kelkoo, Ciao and LeGuide were sold. All are now managed under the Kelkoo umbrella by a U.K. investment group and employ about 230 people in Europe.

The company’s online shopping revenue continues to decline and time is running out.

Related stories on these topics: CompetitionDigital IndustryGoogleMediaOnline shoppingStartups

 

 

 

 

The Fight Against Google Continues in the EU

Thanks to our working relationship with CEPIC,  we are kept up-to-date on the latest in the EU fight against Google.  DMLA is been part of ICOMP, which has now joined forces with OIP (Open Internet Project) to bring more pressure on Commissioner Vestager.  There are two related articles to read.  Part of one is below and the link to one from Politico is here.

Welcome to Morning Tech, your beacon of truth when there is fake news around EU’s tech politics and policies.

END OF A EUROPEAN SUCCESS STORY? After a year or so of relative silence, Google’s rivals and opponents are back in the streets, cranking up the pressure on Europe’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to act. Last week, it was ICOMP and the Open Internet Project, this week it is Kelkoo tearing into the Shopping case.

The chief executive of Kelkoo, one of Europe’s largest shopping comparison websites, said his firm could go under next year if Vestager doesn’t take serious action in the six-year-old case. “We’ve got to the point where we have nothing left to lose,” Richard Stables told us.

Join the queue, Richard. Foundem, the original complainant, closed its website in December; Yelp announced around that time it was closing its European operations, complainant group ICOMP is pooling its resources with the Open Internet Project, while many other shopping websites have shriveled. And yet Kelkoo’s outburst is significant: It’s a big European player, with a presence in almost two dozen countries and 230 employees.

Dreamstime Integrates Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into Stock Photography Service

 

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Dreamstime, the largest community in stock photography, announced today the company has implemented a proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) system that uses sophisticated algorithms to screen submitted images. The machine learning tool is designed to examine how human editors at Dreamstime review images, and then adjust its parameters to best match the editors’ various criteria.

The AI tool from Dreamstime will go beyond current image recognition software, as it can unite metadata with the context of the image itself. It can be applied to multiple areas of the submission process, for example notifying users they need a model release or recognizing a copyright logo resides in an image. The tool has the capability to detect features in submitted images that trigger rejections, and uses this same intelligence to label and localize each photo.

This is a next-generation enhancement that can not only recognize the subject of a photo, but also relate its compositional and commercial value. Dreamstime will continue to utilize its team of human editors who understand the nuances of reviewing in terms of the legal, aesthetic, and technical aspects of an image. This team’s ongoing work will be integrated within the AI system, allowing it to adopt some of the human element of the review process.

Both photographers/contributors and end users will benefit from the AI solution. Photographers will receive a streamlined review period for images, so they can have more content accepted and more quickly earn revenue for their work. Dreamstime estimates it will reduce the review period with 30-60% and in some cases, the review will be instant. End buyers/designers will gain from a wider selection of image content and a refined search capability that accounts for the AI-produced data.

“Constant innovation is a primary reason for our continued success in the stock image industry,” said Serban Enache, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “With our AI solution, we have created a continually improving tool that will conduct instant image reviews, which will streamline our approval process. And we can layer on other types of metadata points such as customer behavior to build a truly intelligent solution that helps us improve the end-user experience.”

Among current functions we can include a search engine that helps editors determine if certain images were uploaded before and are already online, thus avoiding duplicating content, automatic recognition of certain landmarks that can only be sold as editorial licenses, automatic recognition of illustrations.

Future planned enhancements to the AI’s functionality include the addition of customer behavior data, so the system can effectively “learn” what types of images are selling, and which ones are less appealing. It will do this by learning from various sources and combine that information with data from other previous steps to develop an accurate gauge of an image’s likely value.

Rivals add to complaints against Google’s Android

By Nicholas Hirst/Politico

A tech lobby group filed a fresh antitrust complaint against Google with the European Commission, reiterating accusations the U.S. tech giant used its popular mobile operating system to protect its dominance over internet searches.

The Commission already has an ongoing probe into Android examining the issues raised by OIP. If the Commission accepts OIP, whose members include French-German search engine Qwant, as a formal complainant in the Android case, the lobby group would have access certain documents and could provide its views.

The OIP also announced Tuesday that it was integrating 20-plus companies from the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, a long-standing anti-Google group that is closing.

It used a press conference to criticize the length of the Commission’s probe into Google and to call on enforcers to impose “interim measures,” which could require Google to change its conduct pending a final decision. It also accused Google of acting in “bad faith.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

OIP’s members include German publishers Axel Springer (a co-owner of POLITICO in Europe) and Hubert Burda Media, Qwant, the French search engine in which Axel Springer has a stake, French shopping website leGuide.com, U.S. photo agency Getty Images, and German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1.

To view online

Berlin University of Applied Sciences Designs New Image Search

In 2014 Kai Bartel, Professor at HTW Berlin (University of Applied Sciences) was a speaker on one of our panels at the DMLA Conference “The Future of Image Search and Retrieval, From Description to Decryption”.  Since that time Dr. Bartel has continued his research in the field of image retrieval and has recently cooperated with pixabay in developing a visual image browsing tool similar to Google maps.  You can find their website here.

Pixabay wrote about their relationship with the University of Berlin and their search tool pics buffet in their blog: “ Picsbuffet was designed and implemented by the Visual Computing Group at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin). In order to make this image exploration possible, all images are visually arranged on an “image map” according to their similarities. The currently displayed section of the map can be interactively modified by dragging and zooming with your mouse: more similar images are displayed by zooming in and zooming out provides an overview of thematically related image concepts.  After entering keywords for a search, a region with appropriate results is displayed: The heat map in the upper left corner shows the regions where the corresponding pictures can be found. Clicking on the heat map or on one of the five images below the heat map will jump to the corresponding region. If you click on an image its preview image and a link to the Pixabay page will be shown. Alternatively, you can start a new search for similar images.”

 

You can see their entire blog here.

Dr. Kai thought that DMLA members, especially those who attended the meeting in 2014, would be interested in how their research has evolved.  For more information you can contact him at Kai-Uwe.Barthel@HTW-Berlin.de

Member Profile: Tetra Images

New in 2017, we will be highlighting various DMLA members to give insight into their businesses with Member Profiles.  First up in the series is Valerie Saunders, President of Tetra Images.  We recently sat down with her for a look at this RF collection with a conceptual concept focus.  You can read the entire interview here.

Member Profile: Interview with Valerie Saunders: Tetra Images

 

Riley Cardoza, DMLA Social Media Assistant, sat down recently with Valerie Saunders, President of Tetra Images to gain some insight into this DMLA member.

  1. Can you describe your experience in the industry?

I started out on the editorial side right after I graduated from college as a photo researcher and then photo editor for magazines at Conde Nast and Gruner & Jahr, among others. I worked with some of the top fashion and beauty photographers of the 1990s and had my first taste of conceptualizing imagery to go alongside headlines and stories. I was surrounded by interesting creative and later became curious about the commercial side of the business. I interviewed at advertising agencies and stock photo agencies and was offered a creative director position at Comstock (a brand that was eventually bought by Getty Images). I was there for six years and tasked with developing their royalty free offering from scratch. I absolutely loved strategizing the content map for that product and working with photographers to produce it all. I learned a great deal about the demand for stock and the very different approach required as compared with my editorial roots. With the advent of the internet and digital photography, the business transformed quickly and I made a decision to leave Comstock and to begin producing content with photographers to market through multiple channels such as Corbis and Getty. Eventually, this evolved into a partnership to launch Tetra Images in 2004.

  1. What is Tetra Images?

Tetra Images is royalty-free imagery produced by leading professional photographers based all around the world. It is art directed and edited by top industry professionals, ruthlessly curated, and distributed through every major global licensing channel. We produce conceptual content across all subject categories and have been a top-selling brand for almost 12 years.

  1. Where do you see Tetra in the next few years?

We are making a big push to bring on photographers who are in more remote locations and who cover different niches. We want content that resounds with every possible territory and to keep energizing the collection with fresh perspectives. The speed of technology is creating a bunch of new opportunities and new audiences for our work. A huge part of my team’s strategy is to cultivate our current and prospective relationships so that we are always putting our pictures at the forefront of these new opportunities.

As the massive volume of imagery continues to crowd the search process, I also see our commitment to curation being a very important part of our service to our licensing clients. As an industry, we need to find ways to make that search process more efficient. No one wants to wade through pages and pages to find something (or nothing). They should be inspired and
excited with every click.

  1. How have your anthropology and economic degrees influenced your work?

Anthropology is the study of culture. In royalty free creative content, especially, you need to speak to a broad audience. A photograph needs to be exceptional enough to get your attention and it needs to be a fast “read” so that the viewer understands the message or the emotion immediately. Certainly a lot of the lifestyle material that we create and represent is at its best when it reflects modern culture in an authentic way. It helps enormously to be interested in what the human experience is, what is trending and how our daily lives are changing all the time. That informs our creative direction so that the imagery is relevant and relatable.

As far as economics, what I love about this business is that you get direct feedback from your buyers as to whether what you are doing is working. If you’re creating the right content, you’re making money. If you’re not delivering the right solutions, you’re out of business. It’s
straight math.

  1. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

Don’t get too caught up in your intuition and hunches. It’s all about the data. Never take your eye off the sales and what clients are responding to. There are a lot of collections out there right now that are busy picking pictures based on their editors’ taste and what they personally like. I have seen this type of “curation” many times over the years and it does not work long-term. A disciplined strategy based on real data and numbers is a far superior predictor of success. This is where the economics kicks in.

  1. How long have you been a DMLA member?

Tetra has been a member of DMLA since our very beginnings in 2006. PACA and DMLA have given me an amazing resource for connecting with other businesses like ours to share information and support each other as the industry continues to grow and transform. The conferences in particular bring the content creators and distributors in one place from around the world and serve up an energized space for exploring opportunities. I have signed many contracts at these events over the years and met some of my very favorite people through DMLA. I consider it an absolutely essential piece for any media licensing business. Onward we go.

 

 

 

 

 

Gado Images Highlights African American History


Gado Images is a San Francisco based company that works with archives worldwide to help them digitize and monetize their visual history. In celebration of Black History Month, Gado Images’ research staff handpicked some of our best archival and contemporary editorial content providing extensive coverage of African American History topics. Our images cover topics ranging from pre-history through slavery and the Civil War, into the civil rights movement, African-American artists and entertainers of the 20th century, all the way up to modern movements like Black Lives Matter.  Read the entire article here.