Where Is Offset Headed?

Posted on 8/15/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Nobody seems quite sure what the future of Offset might be. Keren Sacks, the god-mother of Offset, left (or was let go, no one seems quite sure) last December and is now working as a “Visual Content + Strategy Consultant.”

Sources tell me that nothing was announced to contributors about her departure and that no replacement has been named. The brand seems to be taking in fewer new images with most of the new addition coming from a few major production companies. Here is a list of a few of the top producers.

Image Source 47,264
Cavan 44,380
Westend61 43,120
Johner 15,941
Aurora 15,155
Blend 15,082
Robert Harding 5,107
Tetra 3,555
Erickson Stock 3,144
Science Photo Library 2,274

There are also rumors that Shutterstock intends to integrate Offset into the main Shutterstock collection, probably similar to what Adobe has done with “Adobe Premium.” However, it  is months since that rumor was floated and nothing seems to be happening.

It is believed Offset currently has about 500,000 images. See the chart below for the number of images with certain popular keywords. Based on the number of images Adobe Stock has that relate to each of these same keywords, I estimate that Adobe currently has about 250,000 images in its Premium collection.?

Keywords Offset Adobe
People 301,081 89,148
Children 106,650 27,908
Food 71,940 27,793
Lifestyle 64,854 89,316
Travel 59,320 48,626
Recreation 48,812 23,893
Animals 46,251 21,934
Family 35,530 17,675
Architecture 34,790 16,357
Business 28,992 36,201
Couple 21,398 19,217
Babies 20,621 7,771
Wildlife 20,209 18,427
Office 15,669 15,603
Senior 13,454 7,364
Computer 12,965 13,880
Pets 11,669 5,765
Education 6,342 7,677
Medical 4,998 3,323
Finance 823 1,150

Based on what I’ve been able to learn from Offset image creators, they make, on average, about one sale annually for every 10 images they have in the collection. The average gross license fee of these images is around $350. As best I can determine the royalty share for everyone is 30%.

Others place the gross revenue generated by Offset at between $10 and $15 million annually which would mean that they are making fewer sales than one for every 10 images in the collection.

Sources tell me that the Facebook group for Offset Artists has been full of complaints about low sales numbers for both volume and quality. A lot of very upset people are looking for other places to sell images.

Is Integrating Offset Into Shutterstock A Good Idea?

One of reasons Shutterstock may be holding back on integration is that they are trying to decide whether such a move would result in revenue growth, or a further decline in sales of the higher priced premium images.

When it is easy for a customer to toggle back and forth between the high priced, curated collection as is the case with Adobe Stock, it may be easier for the customer to decide to go with a cheaper image rather than one that is higher priced.

One of the advantages of two separate collections is that the customer typically makes a decision to search in one or the other and end up going with the best image they can find in whichever collection they choose. Once they have found something suitable on one site, it is a lot more work to switch to a different site to see if there is something even better there.

One of reasons for searching the premium collection is that it is curated and much smaller. Such a search requires much less time to review all available options related to a particular keyword. Presumably, because the premium images are more expensive, they will be better. If the customer has the budget for the more expensive images, why not go with the best and get the job done quicker?

Another advantage is that the more expensive images are much less likely to have been used as frequently by other customers as the cheaper ones. However, for most customers that is not really an issue.

When it is easy to compare expensive and cheap images side by side, the customer quickly becomes aware that there are some excellent options among the cheapest images. Just because an image is more expensive doesn’t mean it is better. In fact, in many cases the only reason one image is more expensive than another is because one photographer refuses to license his images for a low price while the other is willing to do so.

Thus, while image creators may be disturbed by the fact that this website or that website make so few sales of their premium images, as long as there are more and more good quality images in the low priced collections the number of sales of premium priced images are likely to continue to decline.

Copyright © 2017 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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