Are You Watching Trends In Online Ads?

Posted on 10/2/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Have you been watching the ads lately when you do online searches? Yesterday, I was reading a news story on Yahoo about U.S. manufacturing and three different Adobe Creative Cloud ads were delivered in connection with that one story. Two of the ads included the “St” icon promoting Adobe Stock.

The story had nothing whatsoever to do with photography or graphic design, but I was delivered Adobe ads. I’m sure that if my neighbors had looked at the same story they would have been shown totally different ads. None of them are involved in the photography or publishing businesses in any way.

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and the people delivering ads have figured out that the person using my computer quite frequently searches for things related to photography or graphic design. Thus, they want to deliver ads to me that relate to my areas of interest. I never click on any of these ads, but that doesn’t make any difference. They still keep coming.

Why is this important?

If you are in the photography or graphic design business you have probably noticed over the last few years that you’ve seen Shutterstock ads quite frequently. That’s one of the major reasons why Shutterstock is expected to gross about $428 million this year up from about $78 million in 2010. In 2014 Shutterstock spent about $80 million on advertising and marketing. A huge percentage of that budget went to ads on the Internet.

Not everybody is being inundated with these ads, just those of us who Internet service providers have determined might sometime in our lifetime want to purchase an image, given our Internet activity.

Occasionally you see a Getty ad, but not nearly as frequently as Shutterstock. Now, I think I am seeing Adobe Creative Cloud ads even more frequently that those from Shutterstock.

This may provide an indication of who is likely to dominate the stock photo business in the future.

Adobe certainly has the money to spend on advertising and it looks like they may be out-marketing Shutterstock. Since Shutterstock entered the advertising game Getty has never really competed from an advertising and promotion point of view. That could be one of the reasons -- although certainly not the only one -- for the decline in Getty and iStock sales.

Another Though On Advertising

Many photographers are worried about the decline in revenue generated from newspaper and magazine sales. To a great extent that is because newspaper and magazine advertising revenue is declining. They no longer have the money to pay content creators.

One thing we could do to help these publications is go to newspaper and magazine sites and click on the ads delivered with the content. When we do that, a little money will be taken from the advertiser and delivered to the publication. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others will take a big share of the advertiser’s money, but at least the publication will get something. It costs you nothing – except your time – to deliver this money to the publication. You don’t have to actually buy anything.

Of course, as I noted earlier, I never click on the ads. If I were to click, in all likelihood I would then be forced to watch a 30 second video promoting the advertiser’s products. I don’t want to waste that 30 seconds.

However, what is really beginning to bug me is that more and more often when I open a story on the Internet I am forced to actually watch a video before I can read the story. Often there is no way to click out of the video and get on with what I really want to do – read the story.

We’re also seeing ads popping up in pictures. If it is a banner underneath a photo, that’s not too bad. The eye can easily ignore that. But, is some cases you have to watch the short video before you can see the picture. I think we are going to see more of this.

It may not be long before in order to get any free information on the Internet, you will have to pay a heavy price in time viewing ads. Or, you could just look for information that is not ad supported – like this newsletter – and pay a small price for access to the information you need.

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, 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:  


  • ricardo azoury aguiar Posted Oct 3, 2015
    Jim, have you heard about retargeting? That is what they are doing. But this is pretty old marketing technique and every company does. Cheers.

  • Sheron Resnick Posted Oct 5, 2015
    Dear Jim:

    It's probably not that Google is tracking your searching for stock sites (which of course they are), but rather that you've been on the Adobe Stock site -- probably many times -- and Adobe has captured that and fed it into their Google Ad account. So if you're seeing it more often, it's likely because you've recently been on the Adobe site more often than you've been on ShutterStock.



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