Ways Agencies Could Improve Sales

Posted on 11/20/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

A number of stock agencies are complaining that they don’t get enough new submissions of in demand imagery. See here. They are seeing increasing requests for "diversity," "African American," "Black Lives Matter" and say that images showing more minorities and ethnic groups are needed.  For the most part they are very unspecific about what these images should show.

More detailed information would be helpful. Here are some steps agencies could take to give contributors a clearer understanding of the kind of images being requested and downloaded relative not only to the above search terms, but all search terms.

Search Words Used

    1 – Compile a list of every English language word used in searches during a week.

    2 – Sort the list to determine how many times each word appears in these searches.
    3 - Index the list based on total number of times each word is used.
    4 – Determine and supply to photographers the average number of words used in each search.
    5 – Determine the percentage of total downloads that have one or more of the 1,000 most used words in their list of keywords.
    6 – Make available to photographers a list of the 1,000 words most often used in searches in the order of most frequently used.


    1 – Compile a list of image numbers of all images download during the same week.

    2 – Index that list on the frequency of downloads of each unique image.
    3 – Compile a collection of the 1,000 most downloaded images during the week.
    4  - Make this group of images available for search by participating photographers in the order of most frequently downloaded.
    5 – Determine and report the percentage of total downloads for the week that these 1,000 images represent.
Also supply information relative to the average number of total requests compared to the number of downloads. For example, there may have been a total of 3,000,000 downloads and 30,000,000 searches during the week. That means that customers must do an average of 10 searches for every image they find that fits their requirements. How is that statistic changing over time? Are customers finding that they must do more searches to find exactly what they need?

It would also be helpful if the agency would publish an Excel List with 6 columns – (1) Word, (2) Number Times that word is included in a Request, (3) Number in the Images Collection that contain that keyword (4) Downloads (5) Image numbers of most frequently downloaded images (5) Link to the 1,000 top downloads .

For the most part all this information could be collected and organized with a simple computer program and without a lot of labor intensive, human work. It would then be up to each individual photographer to do the real analysis, but those interested would have much better data to work with than is currently available.

Analyzing The Results


If there is a small number of images in the collection with frequently used keywords, that could indicate that more of that type of imagery is needed. If there are a large number of images in the collection with these often used keywords, that could indicate that the type of image the customer is looking for doesn’t appear in the first 500 or so search returns.

By indexing on (1) the photographer can see which words were used most frequently. The photographer may want to shoot more images that illustrate the frequently used keywords.

By indexing on (4) the photographer can see which images are being downloaded most frequently. Are the images downloaded most frequently ones that are most often found using a particular keyword? If not, are there several different keywords used to find similar types of imagery?

The type of subject matter of images near the top of the download list compared to images further down or near the bottom indicates the relative demand of different types of subject matter.

If there are certain subjects not included in the list of 1,000 images that may be a good indication of the total demand for those subjects.

Do some of the words most frequently used, not seem to produce much in the way of downloads. Photographers could search the main collection using those keywords to see what is available near the top of the search returns.

Are there keywords the photographer often uses that don’t occur is the top 1,000 most used keywords? The photographer need to assess how valuable it is to shoot that type of imagery or add these keyword to his or her future images.

Are any of the top words ones the photographer hasn’t been using and might be relevant to his images?

If a keyword is used 1,000 times, but images related to that keyword are only downloaded 50 times that could mean that customers are looking for more of that type of imagery, but not finding what they want. It could also mean that lots of different images with similar characteristics are being chosen.

If the number of downloads of a particular image is much smaller than the number of requests that could mean that the customer isn’t finding the kind of images they need. This may be subject matter the photographer wants to produce more of.  If none of the type of images the photographer has been shooting are found in the top 1,000 used that may be an indication that there is not much demand for the type of imagery he or she is providing.

If none of the type of images the photographer has been shooting are found in the top 1,000 downloads, and the 1,000th image has very few downloads, the photographer might want to consider whether continuing to produce more of the same type of imagery is worthwhile.

It is important to remember that every photographer had different interests, talents and skills as well as different access to subject matter. Better information to help each photographer do his or her own analysis would make it possible for all photographer to produce more of what customers really need.  It’s not just about a few broad categories.

Repeating this process on a monthly or bi-monthly basis would be even more helpful.

Copyright © 2020 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


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