Adobe Launches Free Stock Image Collection

Posted on 10/14/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

Adobe Stock has launched a Free Stock Image Collection containing about 70K images (50K pictures, 15K Vectors and 6K video). The first version has been built from the work of a few top contributors who have a significant volume of images in the main collection.

Contracts were negotiated with each artist individually and the amount paid per asset varied. However, Adobe management specified that the price for each asset should be “at least above the annual RPI” of that asset. The price paid is for one-year use in the Free collection. Assets will be returned to the Paid collection within the coming year and replaced with new content. In this way free assets will vary over time to help the collection stay relevant and attract new customers while minimizing negative impacts to the company’s paid collection.

Since these initial contributors got paid an annual return for their images used than was greater than they have been earning from each image they have very little to lose even if it turns out that Adobe’s customers use only the free images and stop using the ones they must still pay to use. It is unclear whether the second generation of contributors that Adobe asked to add images to the free collection will get the same deal.
Adobe has concluded that the trend of free imagery websites isn't going away. With their new site they hope to address the demand for free content while supporting content creators as well as driving traffic to paid assets.

The content in the free collection comes with the same standard or enhanced license as content in Adobe’s paid collection. Model’s Releases are guaranteed, and a Commercial License is provided with all the images in the free collection. None of the other Free websites offer such guarantees of uses. With this site Adobe has the opportunity to educate free users—many of them new to stock—about licenses, copyright, and respect for artists’ content.

In cases where contributors have a series of similar images on a subject Adobe has selected a few from each series to make available for free. However, Adobe shows under each free image the rest of the “Paid” series. It is hoped that this will balance the risk/benefit for the image creator and that at least some customers will choose to pay for one of the other images in the series rather than use the free one.

Adobe’s model for the free collection is “breadth but no depth.” The collection tries to answer the full spectrum of new Stock buyer’s needs while avoiding depth of content in any specific topic. Nevertheless, it is not expected to grow much above 100,000 images. The goal is not to compete with the free collections in terms of size, but quality.

Adobe intends to monitor and fine tune the collection on a daily basis. Its goal with this Free collection is to make it mostly appealing to new buyers who might have been tempted by other free websites, and showing them the comfort of a safe collection. The Free Stock Collection should give potential new user a taste of the value the Stock industry can provide with the hope they will convert to paid customers once they need more.

Will This Benefit Photographers?

Adobe expects the free collection to attract new visitors, drive greater exposure of paid assets and generate more revenue for creators. I doubt that will be the case.

Customers looking for free images certainly want the best images they can easily find. Adobe’s tightly edited site should make it easier to quickly find a good image than is the case with most of the other free sites. But, will these customers be willing to pay for something that is slightly different or better. In most cases I doubt it. So, there may be a lot of use of free images, but it may not drive much in the way of sales from the paid collection.

On the other hand, what about Adobe’s existing customers. Will they ignore the free collection and always go to the paid collection for the images they need? There is a huge incentive for existing customers to begin their searches by checking out this tightly edited portion of the 137 million paid collection. They will quickly discover that some of the best images Adobe has to offer oo high demand subjects have been made available for free.

The “More From This Series” and images with “Similar Keywords” will also help the existing customers quickly zero in on the best images from the paid collection. But having seen the free image will they decide, “I really need to pay for something different,” or “the free image is just fine and I’ll save the money for the next project.” In many cases, I think they will go for the free image.

As a result, it seems likely that overall sales will decline while image use may go up substantially. Image sales for the industry have been flat, if not declining, for some time. Check out Shutterstock’s quarterly downloads. Reports from Adobe contributors indicate they have been seeing the same trends. This is probably one of the major reasons Adobe has found it necessary to reach out to free image users and hope for the best.

A few of the top producer may have received a guaranteed return for another year, but if Adobe can’t really grow paid sales, not just total image downloaded and total user looking at the site, artists who have either not been allowed to participate, or chosen not to, will likely see a decline in revenue earned.

However, Adobe can still win if they get more people looking at their site. If they can’t earn more from selling pictures, with more user they may be able to generate more revenue from selling their other software products. Adobe is an $11 billion company. We believe total revenue generated by its image licensing division is around $250 million. Thus, the image business represents less than 2% of the company’s total revenue.

Adobe says, “We do not want to change the “breadth but no depth” balance and don’t want to hurt contributing artists revenue or worse, the revenue of other artists. But artists should be free to decide for themselves what assets they want to make free to use.”

It is expected that participating artists will receive no information about the number of times each of their free images has been downloaded. However, this might be subject to change.

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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