iStock First to Market with Localized Search

Posted on 12/13/2010 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

iStockphoto has been working on a way to use language and country data to deliver more locally relevant results since last year. On Monday, the Getty Images-owned microstock leader delivered on this promise. The company also launched a new editorial product offering.

The search-engine changes are not limited to localization, though this is certainly game-changing—and not just for a micro-priced provider. When iStock chief operating officer Kelly Thompson first described the notion of search localization to Selling Stock, he said: “A person looking for an image of beer in Germany will have a very different idea of what that image should look like than an American buyer.”

Consider this: Previously—and still, at most agencies—different buyers searching for “money” would get the same exact image selection irrespective of their physical location. Starting in mid-January, the new iStock search engine will deliver more targeted results, starting with photos of British pounds and euros for U.K.-based customers vs. dollars for U.S., and both will get an assortment of universally applicable choices, such as a bag of gold or assorted currency symbols. According to the company, a user’s location is the one thing that can be reliably used to help narrow a search from its beginning.

Though the iStock collection currently stands at something like 7 million files, Thompson dismisses others’ quest for the largest offering: “We’ve chosen to ignore this fight and focus instead on what matters most—the best collection with the most relevant search results. Unless you can help customers find the needle, there’s no point in giving them a bigger haystack.”

While this final language and location-specific feature remains a few weeks away, many other changes to the iStock search engine have already been implemented. The new interface offers customers an array of new tools directly on the search-results page, enabling them to tailor and narrow each search and view results in real time. Current filters include file type and size, artist, orientation, collection, upload date and music genre; audio mood and duration filters are in development as well.

Also forthcoming early in 2011 is an editorial collection, for which iStock is currently seeking content from its contributor base. The company is currently accepting images in the categories of products, architecture and landmarks, travel and lifestyle, social commentary and urban living. However, iStock cautions contributors that it is not looking for time-sensitive news images or traditional photojournalism, encouraging photographers who shoot this type of subject matter to contact Getty Images.

Other top-tier microstocks have already ventured into editorial imagery. Since these companies do not disclose revenues, either total or by image type, it is impossible to say how successful such offerings have been. Most pundits agree that micro-priced editorial content has not generated significant revenues. iStock’s entry into the niche may be significant: the company has a wealth of customers, a parent that specializes in editorial content and a focus on quality. Perhaps the combination of these attributes with the right price can make the difference.

Copyright © Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


  • Cherie Hung Posted Dec 15, 2010

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