a21 Folds MediaMagnet into SuperStock

Posted on 10/17/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The troubled Florida company has announced that it has integrated the budget MediaMagnet offering into the SuperStock Web site. While the company says that the MediaMagnet brand continues to grow, its consolidation with a21 Group’s flagship stock product suggests that the budget brand has failed to gain enough traction as a standalone product.

a21 first announced plans for MediaMagnet in September 2007, on the heels of a major restructuring effort designed to free up cash for new initiatives. The company intended to “meet the creative needs of the marketplace and to create significant value for our stockholders,” according to CEO John Ferguson.

The Web site launched to buyers in April 2008, offering royalty-free stills for $29 to $149, depending on size. Industry reactions to the launch were mixed. In the analysis of Photo District News’ Daryl Lang: “Maybe [MediaMagnet] is not finished. Maybe they’ve got some killer feature or strategy they’re waiting to deploy. For their sake, let’s hope so.” Those hopes have not been fulfilled: MediaMagnet never even exited beta before being folded into SuperStock.

In launching MediaMagnet, a21 relied on its proprietary research and customer polls that suggested creatives wanted a stock Web site that provided relevant content, ease of use, value for price, speed, fun and a sense of community. Had the company’s analysis extended deeper, it may have revealed that all such characteristics describe the most successful microstock businesses, with which MediaMagnet was not able to compete on either price or the breadth and quality of content. Its lack of uniqueness may have been the brand’s biggest failure: MediaMagnet offered a relatively small collection of non-exclusive “stock 101” imagery.

Now, Ferguson says MediaMagnet is building a reputation as a leading mid-stock brand and is a strong complement to the more established SuperStock collection. “By consolidating the two sites, we expand the visibility of the entire collection, improve potential sales for our contributors and gain the synergies inherent in a more efficient one-stop storefront for our clients.”

a21 continues losing revenue at the industry’s fastest rate of 17% per year. The company has been exploring financial partnerships, with little success: A planned merger with Vermont-based Applejack Art Partners fell through last month. In August, a21 lost chief financial officer Thomas Costanza; a new CFO has not been appointed.

However, SuperStock remains a strong brand. Interestingly, Alexa Internet shows SuperStock’s Web traffic steadily and substantially growing since April, while the traffic of many traditional brands has declined—as is the case of, for example, Alamy and Veer—or stagnated. a21 has also recently launched several new products through its ArtSelect division. It is certainly fighting to survive, but the challenge may be insurmountable, given the current condition of the global financial markets.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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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