FPG Launches Web Site

Posted on 10/23/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

177

FPG LAUNCHES WEB SITE


Comparing FPG's Site With Those Of Other Agencies

October 23, 1998

One week after Tony Stone Images introduced their on-line site (See Story 176), FPG

launched a site that includes images from all the Visual Communications Group (VCG)

agencies. Now, all of the world's major agencies have a

significant number of images available for on-line viewing and sale.

The URL for the FPG site is www.fpg.com . FPG

had between 16,000 and

18,000 images on the site at launch. FPG is uploading additional images on a regular

basis.The other VCG agencies with images on the site

include Telegraph Colour Library, Colorific, Planet Earth Productions, Pix, Giraudon

and Bavaria Bildagentue. FPG expects to have a fully transactional site in the months to come.

FPG uses slightly larger thumbnails than most of their competitors and pays a price

in download speeds. In our search tests the FPG site was much slower than those of their

principle competitors. Twelve thumbnails seem to come up on the FPG site in about 70 to 80 seconds.

PhotoDisc brings up 9 thumbnails instead of 12, but does it in 15 to 20 seconds. Both

The Stock Market and Tony Stone Images show 12 thumbnails at a time. TSM loads these in 30

to 36 seconds and TSI has a slightly longer load time at about 40 seconds. This test was

conducted on a PowerMac with a single channel ISDN connection (56K). Many corporations

and advertising agencies have faster connections.

Thumbnail size is only one of many factors that effect download speed. Other factors

that may effect download time include sender and receiver proximity to an Internet trunk line,

routing, modem speed, image compression, number of simultaneous users of the site and receivers

ISP. This is not an all inclusive list and many of these factors are beyond the control of

the stock agency or the client. Thus, there are likely to be wide variations in experience

between various users.

FPG users may download hi-res, watermark free files that may be used for full page,

full bleed, true-color comps, presentation and/or layouts for a a $50 service fee. Service

fees are normally not shared with the photographers.

FPG also offers a highly customized digital service that enables users who

require certain specifications (retouching, color correction, etc.) to work

with FPG to make changes, then have the images transmitted in a matter of

seconds.

Keyword Problems

For a site that is supposed to have over 16,000 images, very few come up when

clients search on often requested concept words. It is not clear whether this is due to

very poor keywording, or software problems. It is surprising that such a problem exists

given the fact that FPG has been Beta testing the site for well over a year. The site

was originally for release in the fall of 1997.

Rebecca Taylor explained that FPG has a proprietary system that

takes data from several different files maintained by FPG. At present all this data

has not been loaded into the on-line search system. It is FPG's intention to begin testing the

on-line system with minimal data and slowly add data, in increments, to

determine just how much is really needed.

Ms. Taylor said, "We hope to add additional data in a week or two and to have all the data in

place in at least a month. When we start adding data it will not be attached to all images at

once, but will be uploaded batch by batch." When asked if FPG was concerned that users would

take one look at the site, find

it inadequate, and never come back, she said, "We hope that doesn't happen." Art directors are

already receiving mailings from FPG encouraging them to "log on", and Selling Stock assumes

print ads will be following shortly.

The FPG search engine is designed to put "or" where ever there

is a space. Thus, when searching for a phrase such as "three generations," "good life," or

"rocky mountains" it is necessary to enter

"and" between the words in any phrase if you want the search to pull up only

images that have both words. If you look

for "three generations" it will find all images that have the word "three"

and all images that have the word "generations". FPG is trying to modify their

search engine so the default will be "and" instead of "or" whenever the computer finds

a space between words.

Accurate keywording of what is already there is also a problem. FPG has 25 images

keyworded "banking", but several have no

relation whatsoever to this concept. For example the images keyworded banking include:

a family group forming a human pyramid, a childs birthday party, a father and

son looking into an aquarium and a portrait of a female executive. Also included under

"banking" are two pictures of city skylines that are captioned

"Bank of China Building". Unfortunately, there is no information to tell the user

the city where this building is located. The hills in the background look something like

Hongkong, but when we search on Hongkong, Shanghai or Singapore none of these pictures

appear.

According to Rebecca Taylor, FPG's site is not keyword based in spite of the

fact that users are asked to enter keywords. Instead, she says it will rely

heavily on a thesaurus, not currently in operation, to make the site fully functional

for clients. The thesaurus is scheduled to be installed in a few weeks. Ms.

Taylor is confident that the thesaurus will greatly improve site operation. For the

real answer, go to the FPG site in a month, or so, and check some of the words on our

list and see if you get a better selection of images.

Site Comparisons for Selected Keywords

The following is a comparison of hits using various keywords. FPG www.fpg.com has 16,000 to 18,000

images on their site. Tony Stone Images www.tonystone.com (TSI) has approximately 40,000;

PhotoDisc www.photodisc.com (PhDisc) has

75,000 and The Stock Market www.stockmarketphoto.com

(TSM) has 35,000. While agencies tend to list the total images on-line in their promotional materials,

the more important number is the appropriate number of hits the user gets when

looking for any particular subject or concept.

Keyword   

FPG   

TSI   

PhDisc   

TSM   

  

  

Keyword   

FPG   

TSI   

PhDisc   

TSM   

Action   

20   

577   

226   

2321   

  

  

High Tech   

0   

0   

290   

1   

Affection   

0   

1082   

595   

3995   

  

  

Holiday   

4   

1798   

1863   

359   

Americana   

0   

1020   

1528   

706   

  

 

Industry

22

1500

4990

3054

Babies

351

1316

269

1315

 

 

Integrity

2

87

15

535

Banking

25

0

56

123

International

60

1431

776

559

Beach

811

1493

2659

1200

Joy

3

262

157

2717

Beauty

1

2459

1299

452

Kindness

0

575

7

407

Bizarre

0

546

0

0

Leadership

0

45

276

1035

Business

188

3204

13924

2933

Love

2

2568

1378

5091

Caring

8

575

213

4112

Medicine

15

1192

1745

2164

Celebrations

17

1060

695

390

Model

22

2680

488

43

Change

0

2030

720

857

Nature

4

4252

11714

2502

Childhood

0

0

1307

2034

Order

17

64

401

55

Communications

14

1946

6

4304

Organization

6

104

455

823

Community

14

130

586

60

Peace

0

1388

636

1834

Competition

5

868

624

1174

Power

41

1902

1746

2007

Concentration

0

448

658

3994

Pride

0

314

536

2758

Conflict

0

132

132

227

Recycle

3

0

34

37

Cooperation

0

300

92

2845

Reliability

0

61

14

1870

Couple

1569

2504

2869

2947

Role Model

0

70

42

0

Craftsmanship

0

0

254

52

Romance

0

525

770

1672

Disaster

0

402

127

110

Service

5

721

621

16

Ecology

0

4943

219

530

Sharing

3

241

147

1082

Education

3

997

2283

1402

Speed

3

639

846

928

Effort

0

438

78

3923

Sports

0

5739

1558

4149

Elderly

61

578

1036

1057

Stability

0

23

81

7

Energy

1

922

0

1447

Strange

0

320

40

48

Entertainment

0

1340

940

840

Strength

1

310

1565

1377

Excellence

0

247

6

2474

Success

0

440

735

1412

Family

390

2203

1384

4358

Teamwork

0

766

1086

2754

Fitness

4

5210

7674

2422

Tech

14

0

291

0

Fun

1

1541

1000

5352

Technology

4

861

3734

3762

Future

5

284

369

1655

Tenderness

0

1082

94

2307

Futuristic

0

284

8

3

Three

130

2129

189

1901

Generations

120

105

2

1318

Three Generations

245

5

0

272

Global

12

192

1029

705

Time

32

988

1168

2150

Good Life

0

6

2

0

Travel

13

1577

8326

2684

Happiness

13

3492

2457

5953

Victory

7

108

186

301

Hard

7

90

492

2

Wealth

0

318

443

3760

Hard Work

0

23

2

1

Winning

3

172

37

571

Health

8

2954

1805

1966

Work

105

6588

290

2565

Healthy

1

2954

96

543

So What?

Why should photographers care how many images any of these agencies has in particular

subject categories?

  • This comparison gives dramatic evidence of the critical importance of

    keywording when it comes to finding images in the digital environment. The

    differences in the number of hits is dramatic, and does not necessarily have any

    relation to the total number of images on the site. It is important to keep in mind that

    it is possible to narrow categories by using multiple keywords separated by "and". On the

    other hand, it is very difficult to expand the number

    of images in a category if the images have not been adequately keyworded in the first place.

  • A useful exercise in judging the effectiveness of a site is to choose a category and

    determine if a substantial number of the images that come up in that category are

    appropriately keyworded. For example, in

    PhotoDisc's "craftsmanship" category there are a number of images of hard hat

    workers. That may not be what clients really had in mind when they think of "craftsmanship"

    as opposed to a "craftsman".

    We searched on "three" separately because we were also searching on "three

    generations". On the TSI site entering the word "three" brings up several images

    that do not have three of anything in them. This indicates sloppy checking and may be

    indicative of the way TSI approached the keywording of other images.

    Also at TSI the same images come up for both "future" and "futuristic", but these

    two words do not always have the same meaning. The same is true with the words

    "health" and "healthy". Not all images that are related to health care will

    show healthy people. Some might show people in very unhealthy conditions, but be

    legitimate "health care" images. In fact, one of the early images to come up under

    "healthy" shows a very unhealthy looking person.

    It should also be noted that PhotoDisc puts many more

    slight variations of a situation on their site than do most of the Rights Protected agencies. Thus,

    the total number of hits on the PhotoDisc site is not necessarily indicative of the variety of

    situations being offered the user. These slight variations may generate a greater

    volume of sales. On the other hand,they may encourage the client to go to a site like

    The Stock Market's where, if they take the time to look at 100 images, they will find

    a much greater variety of situations than

    they will find looking at 100 images on PhotoDisc.

  • For photographers represented by one these agencies, the agency's ability to supply

    clients with a good selection of images, may be indicative of how well they

    will sell the photographer's work in the digital future.

  • Photographers looking for an agency may want to pick one that appears to have

    their act together in terms of on-line selling.

  • The number of images an agency shows in any category gives an indication of

    the importance they believe their clients place on that subject matter.

    Photographers ask. "What's selling?" Looking at the images these agencies show

    in these categories should give a good indication.

  • By careful examination of the subject matter an agency chooses to emphasize on its

    site, a photographer may get some insight into the marketing philosophy of the agency. For

    example TSI shows no images keyworded "Banking", but 546

    keyworded "Bizarre".

  • In most cases, the agency's inhouse researchers are using this database for

    their initial selection of images. If your images do not come up in a search

    what is the chance that they will ever be shown to clients?

  • When planning a shoot in one of these categories you can see if what you

    planned to do has already been done by someone else, or if your idea is a new

    and better way to illustrate the concept. There is always demand for new and

    updated illustrations of classic concepts.

  • If you are going to be involved in keywording your own images the

    approaches these agencies take can offer some helpful hints. On both the

    TSI and PhotoDisc sites when you upload a preview image you can see all the keywords

    attached to that image.


  • 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.  

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