PACA Announces Survey Results

Posted on 10/14/2003 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



October 14, 2003

2003 Stock Picture Industry Survey

PACA, the Picture Archive Council of America, has announced the
results of the 2003 Stock Picture Industry Survey, a North American
survey that addresses significant questions about the industry. The
Survey asked about major trends covering products, revenues, rate of growth,
leading areas of content and more.

"This year's Survey was a major leap forward for our organization andthe
industry at large, for a number of reasons," reports Jeffrey
Burke, PACA Vice President and Survey Committee Chairman. "For the
first time ever we opened the Survey to industry participants beyond PACA
members. Also for the first time, we retained a well-respected, third party
market research firm to analyze results and provide greater authority to the
Summary Analysis. This Survey also forms the foundation of ongoing research
into the market for stock photography and opportunities for PACA's members."

The Survey results offer a high-level snapshot of the stock picture
industry. This proprietary information is highly useful to all stock
licensing Survey participants and other PACA members. While most know about
their own clientsí buying patterns and preferences, valuable industry-wide
information was simply not available before now.

"For years the industry has been hobbled by the lack of accurate
overall information about itself, an industry that has grown and
changed too rapidly for anyone to gauge," says Cathy Aron, PACAís
President. "Stock picture companies and their contributors all exerted
tremendous efforts in the past, as well as huge cash outlays, trying to
attain a larger share of a market they only partially understood. The 2003
Survey goes a long way toward eliminating this lack of knowledge, and will
assist our members in better decision-making and more effective leadership
within their companies. The good news is that there are strong reasons for
optimism in the market."

The PACA Survey Results consist of responses from 77 agencies and
individuals, with participation from the complete range of stock
agencies and many individual licensors in both in photography and
illustration stock. PACA members created a rigorous survey
questionnaire and enlisted TrendWatch Graphic Arts, the highly
respected market research, to anonymously collect, tabulate and
summarize the results.

The Survey indicates solid reasons for optimism about the continued
growth of both the Rights-Managed and Royalty-Free markets, growth
opportunities in overseas markets, and in savings from digital
delivery of images, to name just a few.

Results are proprietary and will be distributed to PACA Members and
other North American Survey participants only. However, some key
findings include:

  • Policing. A roughly equal number of Archives and Individual
    Creators responded to the survey. Almost
    two-thirds of the archives police the use of their imagery

    while only one-third of the IC's engage in policing activities.

  • Future Opportunities. Stock Archives see their greatest
    opportunities for the future in the (1) growth of overseas markets (2)
    increased outlets for visual
    such as web sites, and (3) savings they will
    recognize from the digital distribution of images
    Individual Creators put increased outlets for visual
    as number 1, and the savings they will
    recognize from digital distribution
    as number 2.

  • Concern. The greatest concern of Stock Archives was economic
    followed by the increased
    competition from the largest agencies
    . For Individual
    Creators, the top two concerns were the cannibalization of
    rights managed sales by royalty free
    and the economic
    . These two were of equal importance to IC's.

  • Future of Print Catalogs. Only 32% of participating
    Stock Archives produced print catalogs in 2002. Notably, all seven of the
    responding agencies with revenues greater than $5m produced print books, and
    the large majority of smaller agencies did not.

  • Specialty Libraries. A large percentage of the
    respondents defined themselves as specialty or niche providers rather than as
    generalists. 63% of the Stock Archives and 76% of the Individual Creators
    think of themselves as niche providers.

    The survey was the most comprehensive ever, although it is also
    valuable as a baseline for ongoing industry statistics tracking. This may
    prove to be one of the more valuable ongoing contributions that this Survey,
    and PACA in general, will make to the stock picture industry.

    The 2003 Survey has some limitations. The strict anonymity of
    participants precludes PACA from estimating the total size of the
    market, and the participation of several large members may distort
    some of the statistical results. Nonetheless, this survey provides
    insight into the stock photo industry and highlights key information industry
    leaders need to know to better manage their businesses.

  • Copyright © 2003 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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