Increased Stock Image Use??? -- Revisited

Posted on 1/14/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

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INCREASED STILL IMAGE USE??? - REVISITED


January 14, 2006

After reading my Story 790 of three days ago Jeff Burke of JupiterImages called to my attention that JIUnlimited.com in not JupiterImages primary web site. Rather, "Jupiterimages.com is the JI 'mothership' website" and currently has over 740,000 images on it. I should have remembered that JIUnlimited.com is not Jupiterimages' primary stock site but a premium subscription-only site that represents high-res, wholly-owned content at a $10,000 annual price point - a unique product offering within our industry. It is a small subset of JI's complete offering. Below is a more accurate comparison of what can be found on the three major brands plus Alamy and Google.

I must confess that given the number and frequency of brands JupiterImages is acquiring, and the addition of new portals that offer the user a significant number of the same images, I'm having trouble keeping up. In fact, as I write this story JupiterImages is in the process of launching its "newest, worldwide partner collection, PYMCA (Photography Youth Music Culture Archive) an additional 10,000 images."






































































































































































































































Subject

Gettyimages.com

Corbis.com

Jupiterimages.com

Alamy.com

Google.com

  

  

  

  

  

  

Caribbean

7,813

1,000+

3,684

43,441

801,000

Caribbean Culture

465

80

73

3,524

5,680

Caribbean Sea

1,079

844

1,230

11,674

35,200

Square rig ship

2

0

2

299

72

Sailing ship

367

745

699

12,896

54,500

Tobago Cays

6

2

7

35

3,270

Bequia

10

7

7

61

12,600

Grenadines

91

127

33

353

30,700

St. Lucia

198

71

80

1,185

92,700

Martinique

77

44

73

979

153,000

Mustique

16

17

8

33

7,660

Grenada

110

70

39

769

115,000

Tortola

57

50

35

365

22,000

Caribbean Folk Art

18

128

0

41

49

Aztec

74

38

34

701

163,000

Aztec temples

  

  

  

  

89

  

  

  

  

  

  

Flowers

45,501

1,000+

24,484

212,943

2,770,000

Jacaranda

11

2

10

86

21,400

Impatiens

23

18

19

344

17,200

Orchids

927

381

417

6,154

294,000

Phalaenopsis Orchid

104

0

54

748

32,000

  

  

  

  

  

  

Food

87,798

1,000+

58,783

227,059

2,520,000

Cassava

0

6

5

81

9,220

Plantain

24

5

45

257

11,900

Palm nuts

7

1

18

174

611

Palm oil industry

1

1

2

22

252

Sugar cane

126

44

72

1,160

27,000

Sugar cane field

62

23

29

466

687

  

  

  

  

  

  

Cars

24,758

1,000+

6,982

110,363

2,420,000

Ford Mustang

0

47

5

776

247,000

1995 Ford Mustang

  

  

  

33

2,160

Porsche

0

32

15

1,622

906,000

1995 Porsche

  

  

  

16

3,230



Burke also makes the point that after January 20th (when the PictureArts material finally comes down) the Getty and Jupiter numbers in certain areas will significantly change again. For example 4 of the 11 Jacaranda images on the Getty site will come off and be added to Jupiterimages.com.

Micropayment Sources

In addition Burke suggested that we ought to be looking more closely at the micropayment sites. He said "if you really want to see the growth opportunities in the stock picture usage I suggest that you look beyond the traditional business models and established players. Micropayment stock sites such as iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and StockXpert.com are quickly gaining customer attention and use, despite their unorthodox, prosumer product offerings. Don't be surprised if all of us soon find ourselves competing directly with them. Their low prices and massive collections will likely fuel the growth area that your article was pondering."

I'm still not convinced that these sites are really going to fuel much additional professional use. I can see that school kids can now buy pictures for $1.00 that they wouldn't have been able to afford any other way. Technically these count as additional units licensed, but I can't see that these additional units sold directly to consumers are going to generate enough additional revenue to be significant for the image producers.

While these micropayment sites may create additional consumer demand, I don't see them doing anything to change the professional demand. However, given the significant offerings of these micropayment sites, I do see them taking market share from the higher priced professional sites. They are also very good business models for the owners of these sites as long as they can convince image producers to keep supplying them with images.

That said it is certainly worth taking a closer look at what some of these micropayment sites have to offer. Below, I have compared iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and StockXpert with JIUnlimited, Alamy and Google, and you can compare them with the majors by matching up the two charts.












































































































































































































































































Subject

JIUnlimited

iStockphoto

Shutterstock

StockXpert

Alamy.com

Google.com

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Caribbean

1,829

1,998

1,583

58

43,441

801,000

Caribbean Culture

87

15

16

0

3,524

5,680

Caribbean Sea

233

1,089

752

19

11,674

35,200

Square rig ship

0

16

13

4

299

72

Sailing ship

214

2,027

1,335

30

12,896

54,500

Tobago Cays

0

0

0

0

35

3,270

Bequia

0

1

2

0

61

12,600

Grenadines

0

31

12

1

353

30,700

St. Lucia

0

23

11

1

1,185

92,700

Martinique

251

26

9

0

979

153,000

Mustique

0

0

0

0

33

7,660

Grenada

2

33

27

2

769

115,000

Tortola

0

9

8

0

365

22,000

Caribbean Folk Art

0

0

0

0

41

49

Aztec

2

112

56

5

701

163,000

Aztec temples

  

37

1

  

  

89

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Flowers

14,650

28,835

40,105

412

212,943

2,770,000

Jacaranda

0

13

7

0

86

21,400

Impatiens

4

13

16

1

344

17,200

Orchids

194

714

63

3

6,154

294,000

Phalaenopsis Orchid

0

73

15

0

748

32,000

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Food

15,167

38,882

30,969

1000

227,059

2,520,000

Cassava

3

1

0

0

81

9,220

Plantain

9

48

19

0

257

11,900

Palm nuts

4

83

14

0

174

611

Palm oil industry

0

0

0

0

22

252

Sugar cane

10

152

97

6

1,160

27,000

Sugar cane field

7

30

10

1

466

687

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Cars

3,982

12,186

8,708

230

110,363

2,420,000

Ford Mustang

0

44

23

4

776

247,000

1995 Ford Mustang

  

  

  

  

33

2,160

Porsche

0

20

118

0

1,622

906,000

1995 Porsche

  

  

  

  

16

3,230





Burke also said, "if I understand your point correctly, it's that deeper subject content may create additional stock sales opportunities, which might otherwise need to be fulfilled through assignment. Essentially, your point is based upon greater editorial opportunities that have small commercial value. While there is some additional incremental revenue to be gained (and more stock image uses to be counted, for those of us who like to track numbers) from those sales, in total they would represent a pretty small financial contribution to a stock company and its contributors. In short, there isn't really a lot of potential growth value here. Think of it as the 'hard-to-reach fruit at the top of the tree, as opposed to the low-hanging stuff. I think that we're all better off leaving much of that for specialist agencies and assignment shooters."

I agree that these specialist opportunities have a very small commercial value relative to the images of business, lifestyle, major travel icons, etc. that make up the bulk of stock photography sales today. I do not agree that all of these niche uses are "editorial". In fact, a significant number of such uses will be for commercial purposes in smaller specialized segments of various markets and will be images that even major advertising buyers who happen to represent some niche clients will need from time to time.

I also believe that many in this industry discount the value and potential volume of editorial sales. Editorial usage rates are much lower than advertising rates and the kinds of images needed cover such a broad spectrum that the chances of any particular image selling is much less. But if you compare editorial demand with consumer demand editorial is much more focused and the rates of payment are astronomical compared to what consumers are willing to pay.

Another interesting factor is that much of this specialized imagery is available at virtually no upfront cost to portal operators. All they have to do is work out a way to accept it and be willing to pay a percentage of revenue generated to the image providers. Portals that do this may, in the long run, discover that system has some benefits over making huge capital investments to own content.

To sum up some of the points I was hoping to make in the first article:

  • There will be very little growth in usage period.

  • To the degree that there will be growth in will be in the use of niche images (provided customers can find them?)

  • Keywording strategies are critical to finding niche images, and the strategies employed by some of the major suppliers are not as good as what the niche suppliers are doing.

  • I would not recommend that any photographer run out and start producing niche images. On the other hand if the photographer has some other sources of income that are subsidizing the production of images for a certain niche market the photographer may be able to earn additional income from such images by providing detailed keywording and making them available for online search.


  • There is a rapidly growing glut of good quality imagery of the high demand people and lifestyle subjects making it less and less likely that any particular image will sell.
    Producing new images of this type of subject matter will become an increasingly risky proposition.

  • Since overall growth in usage is not expected, the only way for a photographer to realize more revenue is for the gross fee charged for usage to go up or the percentage of the gross sale that the photographer receives to increase.


Copyright © 2006 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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