Grover Sanschagrin of PhotoShelter has published a very
interesting analysis entitled “What
Google Trends Says About Wedding & Stock Photography, and Photo Websites,”
complete with charts that illustrate the trends.
The figures show that the phrase “saving money” as a search
term has doubled since 2004. This might mean that there is more demand for
images illustrating the concept of saving money, but it cannot be ignored that
many more people are looking for ways to save on everything they purchase,
The phrase “stock photography” as a search term shows a
dramatic drop in search volume since 2004. Sanschagrin interprets the chart as
“a new visual perspective on the slide of the stock industry.” I read the data
a little differently. Overall, I do not think there has been that much decline
in the demand for stock imagery. In fact, I think more stock images are being
used, and a later chart in Sanschagrin’s report tells the real story.
When he inputs the search term “iStockphoto,” there is a
dramatic rise from 2005 through 2007, flat through 2008, rising again through
2009 and peaking in early 2010—followed by a steady decline since early March
of this year. What I think this means is that beginning in 2005, when people
were searching for stock imagery, they stopped using the generic term “stock
photography” and started using “iStockphoto” or “microstock photography”
instead. Keep in mind that this gives them a whole different set of returns.
Those who license their images at traditional prices may not
like it, but the customers are using different terms to search for photography.
The chart that shows searches for “Getty Images” shows a
steady decline since 2006, but it is not as dramatic as the decline for the
general term “stock photography.” Searches for “Alamy” started declining in
2008 after having been relatively flat in 2006 and 2007. This is very consistent with the gross
revenue numbers Alamy was reporting in those years. According to the chart,
Alamy’s biggest drop in number of searches was in 2009, but it appears to have
leveled out in 2010.
Overall, Sanschagrin’s analysis is worth spending some time