Ad Agencies Turn Away From Stock To Assignments

Posted on 5/27/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

As more and more consumer are turning to social media for information about the products and services they want to buy Ad agencies and brands are finding that they must up the quality of their offerings in order to get attention.

According to Erik Radle, CEO of Dallas-based Miller Ad Agency, “People are finding out that the content has to just sing. It has to just dazzle. We’re spending a lot of time doing photo shoots because the days of stock photography being meaningful on social media are over. That just doesn’t cut it any more and will get you ignored.”

For stock photographers and stock agencies this is not good news. It is not just “more pictures,” it’s the “right pictures.” Designers can’t just drop anything that is new and different into their next ad. It has to be top quality and on point.

The problems for photographer and agencies is that at today’s prices no experienced photographer can afford to produce quality anymore. Sure, there are plenty of snapshots from amateurs being added to the collections everyday. And occasionally they are great.

But, assuming that the Miller Ad Agency is representative of what is happening nationwide, the lack of good stock photography isn’t because the customers aren’t willing to pay reasonable frees for the images they need. The Ad Agencies certainly aren’t hiring photographers for $29 a day to get the images they need for their projects. They must pay a lot more than that for someone to do a custom shoot.

But, according to our calculations $29 was the average fee Getty was charging in 2018 for a still image. The average license fee at Shutterstock, AdobeStock and iStock was even less.

There are still some great images on all of these sites, but percentage wise there are fewer and fewer and the good ones are getting harder and harder to find as they get buried among those of lesser quality.

There are still a few agencies with quality, well edited collections, but they tend to not be the ones who are “top of mind” with the buyers because they can’t afford to out advertise the big boys.

For more about where the trends are heading see this article from bizjournals of Dallas.

Copyright © 2019 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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