VNU To Launch New Stock Image

Posted on 11/8/2003 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



November 8, 2003

Jose Azel has sold his Independent Photography Network (IPN) to VNU Corporation,
parent company of PDNOnline. The new portal, that will be at (still under development),
will be headed by Jeffrey Roberts VP/Publisher of PDN. PDN views this as an
extension of their mission to "serve the photo community" and intends to operate
IPN as a service to photographers and stock agencies, and not to become an agency

VNU is a global information and media company and one of the largest providers of
integrated business-to-business information in the United States and Europe with a
gross annual revenue in the range of $4 billion. It is headquartered in The
Netherlands, publishes 140 trade magazines and organizes 150 trade shows and business
events annually. They are also the world's leading market research company and produce
thousands of specific market data reports each year. ACNielsen Media Research is one
of their brands.

VNU's proprietary databases and industry-specific knowledge and expertise puts them in
a good position to grow sales for those image suppliers represented on the portal. VNU will market the site directly through regularly scheduled
e-mail campaigns to photo buyers and creatives around the world, print ads in trade
publications, special events and direct mail campaigns. In addition to PDN other VNU
brands including PhotoServe and AdWeek will help reach the creative
audiences they server.

VNU has 59 business-to-business titles in the U.S. in the fields of entertainment,
media, marketing, fast-moving consumer goods, retail, merchandising, performance,
travel and the design industries. Its publications include: AdWeek, MediaWeek,
Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, National Jeweler, Progressive Grocer and Successful
Meetings. For more information about the company go to: .

Azel originally developed IPN for use by his editorial agency Aurora&Quanta. Once the
software was developed he expanded the service by making it possible for photographers
to use the interface to build their own custom sites and also have their images
available on an expanded network. If customers enter the site through a photographer's
portal they see only the photographer's images when they do a search. In the event
the customer is searching for a subject the photographer doesn't have the customer is
then given the option to roll over to the full IPN portal and see images on that
subject from all IPN photographers.

In the old version there was no direct entry to the IPN portal (it was necessary to
enter through one of the photographer sites), but in VNU's version there will be
direct entry via

For photographers who want to be a part of the new PDN version of the site there is an
initial $595 set-up charge and a monthly licensing fee for use of the software of
$195. In addition IPN will take 20% of any image licensing fee. A two year contract
is required. The monthly fee includes storage of up to 500 high resolution images per
year. An additional 1,000 images costs approximately $35 per month. For agencies
there is the same initial set-up charge and the licensing fee to use the software is
$495 per month and this fee covers adding 5,000 images per year to the site.

Currently IPN encourages photographers to post at least 40MB, and preferably 60MB
files. They will accept smaller files when shot with digital cameras and of subject
matter aimed at the editorial market. The software indicates the deliverable file size
that is available for each image so the customer can make a decision while selecting
images as to whether the file size available will be sufficient.


There are a number of features that make this portal very attractive for both
photographers and small stock agencies.

  • The image supplier gets a fully functional site that includes automatic
    pricing and delivery. Suppliers have the option of using the IPN pricing, or providing
    their own schedule for online prices.

  • Each supplier may post any images it wants on its own custom site. Image
    suppliers will be responsible to supply high resolution deliverable files and the
    necessary keyword and caption data. IPNstock may select some or the submitted images
    for inclusion on the larger IPNstock portal. IPN will directly promote this larger
    portal and, given the larger cross section of imagery available, it seems likely that
    many customers will choose to use the main portal rather than individual sites of
    photographers or agencies. Customer may also access the main IPN portal through the
    individual supplier portals.

    If a customer enters the database through an individual suppliers URL and performs a
    search the customer will initially see only the images of the individual supplier.
    However, if the search is for a subject that the supplier does not have, then the
    customer will receive an online message indicating that more images are available on
    the main database. By clicking the customer can then see all the images from all IPN
    members on this subject. This referral system is unmatched in any of the other online
    systems we've seen.

  • In those cases where negotiations are necessary the supplier has the choice of
    letting IPNstock handle the negotiations or in dealing directly with the customer. If
    IPN does the negotiating they take an additional 10% of sale. If the image supplier
    handles negotiations they bill the customer directly and pay IPN its 20% share of the
    usage fee.

  • Customer will have the option of searching for either advertising or editorial
    oriented photos, or to search all.

  • In addition to being able to offer automatic online delivery for IPN customers,
    the supplier may deliver at no additional charge Hi-res files from the IPN database to
    customers who did not locate the image through IPNstock. For example, if a foreign
    stock agency is representing one of the IPN suppliers and showing low-res images on
    its site the IPN supplier may authorize that foreign agency to download high-res
    images, as needed, from the IPN site. This reduces the storage requirements for many
    foreign agencies and makes it easier to quickly set up representation arrangements
    with other agencies around the world.

  • One time registration on any of the individual sites, or on the main IPNstock
    site, gives the customer access to any of the preview images on the site. If the
    customer searches various photographer or agency portals he doesn't have to
    re-register each time.

  • It is also possible for individual photographers to make arrangements with
    agencies within the network to show and market their images.

  • IPN allows members to see real-time reporting of site traffic and know who their
    customers are and what they are looking for. Suppliers have access to management
    information on subjects customers are requesting and the preview images they are
    selecting. This information can be useful as suppliers endeavor to fill holes in their
    offering and plan new shoots.

  • Images can be uploaded to the IPN server from Netscape or Microsoft browsers or
    by FTP. This real-time ability to update the database means that timely images are
    fresh, and new images can reach clients faster.

The business model appears to offer some very exciting opportunities for both
photographers and stock agencies. IPN is currently signing up image suppliers and
expects to go live with their site early in 2004. For more information contact

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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