Corbis Buys Digital Stock

Posted on 3/6/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Corbis Corporation acquired Digital Stock Corporation in early February. We believe Digital Stock is the world's second largest provider of royalty-free digital images.

At one point a few months ago Getty-Images was discussing the possible purchase of Digital Stock for around $25 to $30 million. We expect the Corbis purchase was in that ballpark.

"Today's acquisition represents an aggressive move by Corbis to broaden its content and customer

base to include

advertising, graphic design, corporate

communications, pre-press, publishing, multimedia and web site design markets."

Digital Stock becomes an operating division of Corbis' image licensing business and will maintain

its current operations

in Encinitas, CA.

"Corbis recognizes that there is a broad spectrum of both content and customers," said Leslie

Hughes, vice president and

managing director of Corbis

Images. Ms. Hughes recently joined Corbis from The Image Bank.

"With the acquisition of Digital Stock, Corbis is putting in place an important piece of the total product spectrum. By marrying our world-class image collection with our sophisticated technology, Corbis is uniquely positioned to provide digital solutions for visual content users across a wide range of needs, from royalty-free commercial offering for the corporate art director to unique works from major artists and museums for the publisher."

The move marks a major change in direction for Corbis.

The most significant part of this move is that Corbis, for the first time, has acquired imagery

that is likely to be of

interest to the advertising and

graphic design community. Up to now, Corbis has focused exclusively on the editorial and consumer

side of the business.

When acquiring content they

focused on shooters that had a specialty in editorial. When they found a photographer who had both

advertising and

editorial imagery, the Corbis

editors usually totally ignored the best selling advertising images and went only for those that

were editorial.

Some Corbis photographers have expressed concern that Corbis may try to take images already placed

in the Corbis database

and put them on RF discs. We

think that concern is unfounded except in cases where Corbis totally owns the images. Their

contracts with photographers

do not allow such use. In

addition, the vast majority of imagery in the Corbis file is not of a type that would be of

interest to Digital Stock

clients.

The more interesting questions are:

  • As a first step in acquiring content of interest to the Advertising and Graphic Design

    community, why did Corbis

    choose the RF route rather

    than purchasing a traditional agency that focuses on "rights control"?

  • Will Corbis start looking at some of the "Rights Control" agencies as possible acquisitions?

  • Will Corbis make effective use of the DS client database to determine who is using images?

    Will they finally

    understand that the client base for

    DS is totally different from the client base for their editorial images?

  • Will Corbis focus on low end sales to advertising, or will they figure some way to market these

    images to a higher

    market at a better price?

  • Will the fact that the two largest RF providers are now owned by companies that have an

    interest in licensing "rights

    controlled" uses alter the

    pricing structures of RF? Will Corbis push the price up when they begin selling individual DS

    images on-line? Currently,

    the standard is $69.95 set

    by PhotoDisc and $80 by Adobe. The Corbis prices and the Publishers Depot prices are much higher

    with more limitations on

    usage. If Corbis markets DS

    images at its current "rights controlled" prices, and can do that with moderate success, then

    Getty-Images and PhotoDisc

    will have an interesting

    dilemma.

  • Will Getty feel so committed to their price structure that they are willing to leave $30 or $40

    on the table every

    time they make a sale? That

    doesn't sound like a business plan stockholders would endorse. Even the higher prices we are

    talking about are still well

    below the average prices

    charged by stock agencies for such usages. One would think that few clients would be discouraged

    from buying RF images if

    the price were $100 or $110

    rather than $70.

If RF prices for individual on-line sales can be pushed up somewhat it could benefit all sellers.

Given the ownership of

these companies, I believe

such a strategy is within the realm of possibility. On the other hand, it is equally possible that

these companies will try to drive each other out of

the market with a "rush to bottom" on price. One of the most important things to watch relative

to this purchase is what happens to on-line pricing.

Another Note

Every press release talks about Corbis' "great technology" but it sure isn't hassle-free compared

to other sites on the

web.

At Corbis, to even look at images and see if they have anything of interest, you have to fill out a

credit application giving bank references and trade

references. This does not encourage people to look. Sure, this information may be necessary at

the point a customer is ready to buy, but not to look at thumbnails.


©1998 SELLING STOCK

The above copyrighted article(s) are for the sole use of Selling Stock subscribers and may

not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner to non-subscribers without

the written permission of Jim Pickerell, the editor. For subscription information contact:

Selling Stock 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720,

fax 301-309-0941, e-mail: jim@chd.com.


Copyright © 1998 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 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

Comments

Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

You must log in to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our FREE weekly email listing new stories posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More
Where Is The Stock Photo Industry Headed?
For new readers, or those who may have missed some of what I have written over the last few months, the following are a list of stories worth looking at to get a sense of where the industry is headed.
Read More
Photography As A Career
It’s that time of year when high school seniors are waiting for college acceptance letters and thinking about future careers. If you know someone who is thinking about photography as a career you mig...
Read More
2014 Stories You May Have Missed
For many the end of the year is a time to review past experiences and consider whether it makes sense to chart a new course in the year ahead. Stock photography has changed dramatically for professio...
Read More
More Stories In 2014 You May Have Missed
Every so often I put together a list of the most important stories we’ve published in the recent past. If you are engaged in the business of stock photography the links below are to stories that we’v...
Read More
Getty: A Three Month Review
In all the excitement about 35 million FREE images it is worth looking back at some of things that have been happening at Getty Images in the last three months. After watching revenue decline for the...
Read More
State Of Stock Photo Industry: 2013
If you’re looking for an overview of the state of the stock photo industry as of October 2013 the stories listed below are a good place to start. Regular readers of Selling-Stock will have seen all t...
Read More
Education Market Shifts To Digital
If supplying pictures for educational use is a significant part of your business plan you need to be aware of how the market is trending toward digital delivery and how that is likely to affect the p...
Read More

More from Free Stuff