Yuri Provides An Adobe Stock Analysis

Posted on 10/13/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

After a long quiet period as a blogger, Yuri Arcurs has decided that it is time to comment on Adobe Stock. Yuri is generally considered the most successful microstock photographer. For many years he was a strong advocate of non-exclusive representation, and placed his images with virtually every microstock distributor.

But in the Spring of 2013 more and more of his work was being downloaded through Shutterstock at subscription prices. Sales at higher prices via iStock and other distributors that represented his work was declining rapidly because customers could get the same images, much less expensively, at Shutterstock. Yuri determined that, “Subscription sites are not suited for the kind of high production cost images we produce.”

Consequently, he cut an exclusive deal with Getty Images that made his images available through iStock on an exclusive basis. In addition, many of these same images are also available through the Gettyimages.com RF collection as well as his own www.PeopleImages.com site that sells directly to many customers. Currently, he has a combined total of about 200,000 unique images in these collections.

Yuri has always spent a great deal of time analyzing the stock photography market. Thus, his comments are always worth considering, if sometimes self-serving.

He makes a point that Adobe Stock’s server speeds are slower than Shutterstock, but he doesn’t offer a comparison with iStock which is certainly slower than both of them.

He also points out that the overall quality of the imagery is not as good as iStock, but he is comparing iStock’s much higher priced exclusive images that usually have much higher production values with images of lower production cost image found on Adobe Stock. Certainly, customers sometimes “must have” higher production value images. But when the choice is between a $30 iStock image and a $2.99 Adobe Stock image many customers will often go with the lower priced image that may be just as good for their purposes.

The simple fact is that since Yuri went exclusive with iStock, overall the prices and number of units licensed for iStock and Getty Images have been steadily declining while Shutterstock’s sales have been rising dramatically due to lower prices. (This may not be true for Yuri’s images specifically since they also get preference in the search return order.)

Many customers will get most of what they need at the best possible price. Occasionally, they may need a specific image that is priced higher. Then they will pay what is necessary. But that doesn’t mean they will always go to the highest priced source, and particularly such sources won’t be the first place they look.

Yuri also fails to mention that Fotolia does have higher priced exclusive images. At the current time none of these images are included in the Adobe Stock offering. That could change. It is also important to note that Fotolia allows any contributor to add images to the exclusive collection on an image-by-image basis, without being artist exclusive. This way artists can get a higher fee for top-line, higher production valus, niche imagery and still spread their generic imagery around to potentially reach a larger number of viewers.

One comment I found very revealing related to what Adobe is probably spending on Adwords. Yuri, acknowledged that his PeopleImages.com was, “spending a lot on Adwords until a few months ago when Adobe launched. The price-per-click suddenly became so high that it made no sense to do so anymore. Somebody is spending a lot, and it is most likely Adobe.”

Adobe is clearly spending a lot of money to get position in the marketplace, and thus forcing Shutterstock, and anyone else trying to compete, to increase their marketing costs. In the long run it is questionable whether anyone has the money to out-spend Adobe.

Does Adobe Want To Maximize Imagery Revenue?

One thing Yuri failed to address, and I think is extremely important, is the question of whether Adobe’s goal is to grow stock image revenue? Yuri seems to assume that Adobe needs to maximize the revenue it can earn from licensing stock photography.

I think Adobe is much more focused on satisfying the needs of “Image Users” rather than “Image Creators.” Approximately 98% of the company’s revenue comes from supplying software for Image Users. As Yuri says, “there is no other viable alternative to Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc.” On the whole the Image Users will continually want cheaper images. They will pay more for the right image when they absolutely must, but they will be more loyal to whoever can consistently supply them with most of what they need at the lowest possible price.

That is why Shutterstock has experienced such fantastic growth in an industry that has been hardly growing at all.

I don’t think it would concern Adobe at all if AdobeStock/Fotolia revenue dropped from $100 million a year to $75 million, as long as more software users become more dependent on the Adobe Creative Cloud, and the resources it offers, for the work they do.

Eventually, in order to keep satisfying those users Adobe may need to find some way to also offer a limited amount of higher priced imagery in order to keep the users happy. But the goal is not to sell pictures. It is to sell software. In the long run Getty, Shutterstock and anyone else focused exclusively on licensing rights to images will be unable to compete.

Copyright © 2015 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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