iStockphoto: British SMBs Get the Picture

Posted on 6/13/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Research conducted by iStockphoto in the U.K. supports the notion that there exists a much larger market than already tapped by microstock. Though the iStock market sample was somewhat small, the survey illuminates several definitive image-use trends among small and medium-sized businesses.

Along with bloggers and nonprofits, SMBs are fueling the explosive growth at the lowest-price end of the visual-content market. These businesses are typically solo proprietorships or partnerships, which maintain a limited number of employees and handle its sales, marketing and communications activities in-house.

Computers brought us digital imagery, but SMBs discovered and began using it only recently, when it became accessible on the Internet and affordable through microstock. It's telling that the iStock announcement targets SMBs, encouraging them to "maximize their use of imagery."

While iStock executives readily admit that do-it-yourselvers comprise the bulk of its customers, the company sees further opportunity. Among close to 300 respondents to the iStock "Picture Perfect" survey, over one-quarter (27%) said they did not use any images. Nearly half (49%) have yet to put graphics on their corporate Web sites.

Conducted by on iStock's behalf, the survey highlights some already familiar patterns.

SMBs are inventive and readily adopt new technologies, making them a tough stock customer. Over half (59%) of the respondents sourced images internally by taking pictures on their own.

Still, 40% purchase stock photography online and 31% commission original work. SMB image use varies as widely as business types and revenues, but over half of the survey respondents use images on corporate Web sites. A respective 40%, 31% and 14% use imagery in presentations, marketing collateral and as office décor.

Images are in constant demand. Over 20% of SMBs have daily image requirements, and about one-quarter use images two to three times a week. One in 10 use images less frequently than once a year.

Photography leads as the most-used image category, with 71% of SMBs using it more than vector or video content. Despite the purported boom of online video, SMB have been slower in embracing its commercial use. Only 5% said they used video more than other types of visual content, thought there was some regional variance.

As the recognized segment leader, iStock currently has the highest of the global SMB image business. Though many traditional agencies are still chasing lost business, not all will be left out of the SMB boom. This week's launch of the Alamy Limited Use scheme may be unproven and unappealing to some of the company's contributors; however, it is only the first large-scope attempt to reach into an entirely new market by a traditional player.

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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