Outsourced Keywording on Rise

Posted on 6/24/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

As the number of images entering the market keeps growing, companies that license them are face with the difficulty of handling the technical aspects of volume licensing. The trend has given rise to many a start-up, from technology companies that produce back-end content- and business-management applications to companies that specialize in image editing and keywording.

The latter, in particular, has been a busy niche. Kevin Townsend, the managing director of New Zealand-based keywording company Keedup, says that the function is increasingly outsourced by leading U.S. and British companies. "Between the [last] PACA convention and CEPIC, there has been a noticeable change in the number of companies interested in the outsourcing message," he said.

Townsend attributes this to two main factors: the ever-evolving keywording standards and the proliferation of digital imagery. He identifies Getty Images, Corbis and Jupiterimages as the companies that set keywording standards, while smaller companies struggle to keep up.

According to Townsend, who launched his keywording business after running celebrity image agency More Images for more than a decade, Keedup is growing quicker than anticipated. Managing the function in-house is labor-intensive, has a learning curve and additional costly implications, such as software.

In addition, the need for the task is not ongoing; rather, a typical stock agency often faces production spikes, when large volumes of themed imagery need to be keyworded to be made commercially available. Townsend points out that rising volumes of images have exacerbated the uneven workflow. He highlights the news and entertainment segments as particularly vulnerable, since those images have to be instantly available to remain commercially viable.

The result is good for Townsend's business.

"Companies that had been adamant a year ago that their keywording would always be done in-house are now considering [outsourcing]." Many, he says, suffer from excessive or inappropriately used staff. "Often, keywording is done by people who would be better off spending their time selling images, recruiting photographers or editing production."

Keedup is among young industry suppliers who offer an alternative. Its New Zealand location offers rates based on attractively low local wages. Another benefit for European and American companies is the time difference, which allows volumes of images to be processed overseas in the off hours.

There is a host of others, too, in all countries. Florida-based Words for Images is the latest newcomer, launched this month. More established providers include JaincoTech, which maintains offices in the U.S., U.K. and India and offers a range of auxiliary imaging services.

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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