October 30, 2001
Clearly the stock photo industry in the U.S. is in a
recession. There are some indications that Europe is not far behind.
Even before September 11th sales were off for the year compared to 2000. Advertising pages
in major magazines were off 9.2% in the first nine months of 2001 compared with the same
period in 2000 according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
David Verklin told attendees at the American Magazine Conference in New York that
Advertising spending is not expected to improve until the 3rd Quarter of 2002 and magazine
ad volume in 2002 will be down at least 5%.
Getty images revenue for 2001 is expected to be down 6% to 8%. One informal survey of U.S.
stock agencies specializing in Rights Protected imagery showed that sales were down an
average of 20% in 2001 compared to 2000.
Economic Slowdown Hits Design Community
According to Trend Watch's Summer 2001 Design & Production Survey only 20% of the creative
businesses reported excellent conditions. Thirty percent reported poor conditions and 18%
expect poor conditions to continue next year. This survey was completed before September
Trend Watch says, "Whenever companies are in financial distress, advertising and marketing
get the axe first. We saw this first with publishers, then printers, and now the ones who
actually create ads and marketing materials."
Possible Changes In The Working Environment
As you rethink how to move ahead in this changed world environment consider the following
There may be a revival in editorial demand as the "War" progresses. In addition to the
increased demand for military coverage, there will be demand for stories that illustrate the
economic and social conditions and changes that will take place as a result of the new
realities. While there will be a hunger for information, one big question is whether
publications will find space to run all the stories.
This increased demand for information doesn't necessarily result in increased revenue for
those who provide it. Many publications lost money on their September 11th coverage because
there wasn't enough ad revenue to support the editorial space that was used. Don't expect
publications to add editorial space just because customers want more information.
More people may turn to the Internet as their primary source of news and information,
if printed materials don't give them what they need. A Harris Interactive survey showed that
the number of Americans using the Internet as their primary source of news and information
more than doubled in the two weeks following the September 11th attacks.
The Online Publishers Association issued statistics comparing page view of the week ending
September 9, with those for the week ending September 30. They were up 70% at ABCNEWS.com,
78% at MSNBC.com, 69.2% at NYTimes.com, 31.2% at USATODAY.com and 47.8% at the
Two important factors for photo sellers to consider if such online uses become
normative, not an anomaly, are:
-- Editing for online display of photography is likely to be much different than it has
been up to now for printed versions of the publication.
-- Compensation for online use should be separated from print use fees as online may become the
primary use in many situations.
Sites showing feature material may serve new functions. CondeNet's Style.com had a
34.8% increase in traffic when the week of September 9th was compared with September 30th.
Part of the reason for this was that the New York City fashion shows scheduled for September
9-16 were cancelled due to the tragedy and retailers were unable to travel to the shows that
followed in London, Milan and Paris. At the site retailers could evaluate all the
collections without having to travel. Web sites for other niche industries may become a more
important source of information when business travel is restricted.
Direct mail, a big user of photography, could see some long range impact as a result
of the biological terrorism and a simultaneous 10% increase in bulk mail postal rates. Mail
may become less dependable. Slower service is likely. Some direct mail consultants are
recommending more use of postcards, and less use of things in envelopes. Expect stock photo
sales for direct mail to diminish.
Customers may come to rely on e-mail communication to a greater extent. In the
immediate aftermath of the anthrax scares some companies are saying, "if it's important, it
should be e-mailed or faxed."
Earnings of photographers who specialize in travel related photographs is likely to
fall. Occupancy in major hotels is off for both business and vacation travel.
Six weeks after the attack the situation is improving somewhat, but it is still a long way
Conventions have been cancelled and lots of business travel has been put on indefinite
hold. Businesses are learning how to operate with far less travel. Airlines, hotels, and
other travel related users will be forced to cut back on print advertising. Travel related
publications will get thinner and have less space for editorial content. Some editors are
being told to produce the stories themselves and use handout pictures, rather than paying
Finally, Joesph Webb, of Trend Watch says, "the assumption that when the economy gets better
so will traditional advertising is not true." He says market disruptions like we are
experiencing offer many opportunities for changing strategies. When we finally come out of
this slump the rules for successful communication strategies may be entirely different.