Will Pixazza help photographers make any money?

Last week, start-up company, Pixazza announced their new internet service enabling consumers to simply mouse over web  images to learn more and see related products. Turning items in web images into clickable and purchasable content is similar to what Google already does with its AdSense ad platform — except with this tool it sources website images to deliver ads instead of text. The Wall Street Journal reports there’s some serious investment money ($5.75 million) going into this first round of funding; Google has invested and is betting on its success.

I predict that Pixazza, will have an impact on the traditional advertising revenue model–and one that might benefit photographers. Photographers know how to create attention getting images. They’re also used to key-wording their content for stock agencies. It’s a small side-step to become a publisher; they can tag their content and earn some cash. When clients’ sales can be tracked DIRECTLY to how many people clicked and purchased products via images tagged via Pixazza, I suspect that kick-ass images will draw more traffic–and sales–than dull, cheaply-produced images. (I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before the Pixazza’s current iteration–which displays tiny yellow price tags–evolves into something slightly less-intrusive but still relevant to shoppers.)

Forwarding great content is what we all do on a daily basis. Forwarding click-able and money-making image content was going to show up sooner or later. The see-it-on-a-screen-buy-it-immediately consumer product business model has been predicted for years. But now the technology is here.

In the current era where assignment photography seems to be driven more by bottom-line costs than top-line creativity, having sales tracked to a show-stopping image (think of the viral marketing value), may be just the creative game-changer some photographers have been waiting for.

While we hold our breath waiting for the clients to pay creative photographers for the real value they bring to ad campaigns, there’s another way Pixassa might be able to help some photographers.

It’s currently still cheaper to use humans to identify and tag image content than to write computer code to do the same task. While machines can serve up ads based on a page’s text content, Pixazza needs humans to create the ad links to image content. Hiring staff would be expensive. But there’s the modern way;  if you’ve ever tagged or been tagged in Flickr or Facebook, you already understand the new business model: Crowdsourcing.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of crowdsourcing, in June 2006, WIRED magazine’s contributing editor, Jeff Howe, wrote the feature story “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” He shows how a new pool of cheap labor comprised of everyday people using their spare cycles to create content and solve problems.  Ironically, in the four examples of companies using this business model, he mentions iStockPhoto first.

We know all too well how iStockphoto, negatively affected the bottom line of Getty, Corbis, and the photographers who supplied them with premium content. Perhaps now there will be an opportunity for photographers who lost revenues to crowdsourced-microstock to earn some tidy commissions tagging Pixazza’s content.

I just hope the US economy gets fixed soon–or there won’t be too many consumers partake of Pixazza’s ad-served content…