pacaSearch to Launch to Buyers in January 2010

Posted on 11/2/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In less than 30 days, the Picture Archive Council of America will launch the beta version of pacaSearch, a new search engine expected to enable stock agencies—particularly the smaller specialists—to more effectively compete in today’s very crowded market. The service will be free to PACA members.

In January2010, pacaSearch will roll out a major marketing campaign to picture buyers. At a recent demonstration at PictureHouse in New York, Lee Horton, Multimedia Editor of K12 Inc. said, “Learning about the functionality and usefulness of [pacaSearch] put a big smile on my face. As a photo editor and art buyer, I search multiple sites daily. This tool puts more control in my hands. I can keep the results pages in tabs with fewer keystrokes, page toggles and site crashes. The relative percentages, predictive text and term definitions create a tight, clean search environment. With the launch of pacaSearch, I can successfully and accurately find imagery in less time, with less hassle, while having more agency resources at my fingertips. Thank you, PACA.”

PACA’s Web site includes a demo of the new service. Customers who go to and enter a search term will be presented with two lists. The first shows the 30 top agencies in terms of the number of images with that search term, and this number is listed beside each agency’s name.

This list is ordered based on the number of images; the agency with the most at the top. The customer can click on any agency name and go immediately to that agency’s Web site, where all the images related to the search term requested are displayed. If the customer chooses an image, he or she negotiates directly with the agency, and the agency keeps 100% of the fee collected. There are no sub-agency splits, and no percentage of the usage fee is paid to PACA.

There is also a power click feature enabling customers to command-click and choose one or several agencies whose thumbnails they want to review. Then the search shows up in a tab in the background, allowing the user to easily and quickly go through the results of several agencies.

The second list has the same agency names ranked by the percentage of image this subject represents in its total collection. Suppose agency A has 500 images that fit the search term out of 1 million total images. Agency B only has 125 relevant images, but it is a small specialist with only 20,000 total images. In the second pacaSearch list, Agency B will be listed first, because it has a higher percentage of this subject matter in its collection. This may assist customers in determining which agencies have more specialist knowledge in a particular subject area. Again, by clicking on the agency name, the customer goes immediately to that agency’s Web site.

The site also has a unique feature that helps when searching for homographs, words with the same spelling but different meaning or origins, such as “trunk,” “bar,” “bow,” “china,” and “turkey.” pacaSearch provides a drop-down menu whenever such a word is entered to enable the user to see various definitions and pick the specific one they want.

So where is the catch? Participating agencies must be members of PACA and pay annual dues, but for these dues agencies are also entitled to other membership benefits.

It is usually beneficial for a supplier to be able to make its images available through as many portals as possible. But in this case the greatest benefit may be that the supplier is able to control the pricing of usages. Recently, many suppliers have been unhappy with the degree to which some large portals have been discounting prices. pacaSearch lets the agency deal directly with the customer and retain 100% of any fee negotiated.

To participate, an agency must contact and request instructions on how to link its Web site to pacaSearch. Brad Kuhns of IPNStock was able to complete this process in 49 seconds. A second agency did it in about two hours, and another completed the work in less than a day.

Is this just for U.S.-based agencies? No. All any agency—or individual with a searchable database—has to do is become a PACA member. International membership is open to any individual or entity that meets the requirements of a General Member but does not staff an office in the U.S. or Canada.

At PictureHouse, one researcher anticipating the launch said, “It will be a huge time-saver for researchers to be able to search across multiple agencies from one clean, easy-to-use interface. I love the dual ranking feature—showing both which agencies have the most hits on the search and the percentage of their collections that are relevant to the search. The intelligent predictive text search field and ability to save the searches as one bookmark will be incredibly helpful, too. And all free?? Wow!”

Copyright © 2009 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:  


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