Search Trend Analysis

Posted on 11/22/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

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, including pictures. 

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 examining.

Copyright © 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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