PicturEngine: A Unique Portal For Microstockers

Posted on 4/25/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Non-exclusive microstock photographers whose images sell frequently on the current microstock sites may want to take a hard look at PicturEngine’s new portal and marketing strategy.

This portal has five primary goals:
    1 – To make it possible for customers to review, in a single search, all the images included in the major RM, RF and microstock collections as well as images from individual direct contributors to PicturEngine.
    2 – To answer customer complaints about finding the same images on multiple sites. To accomplish this they remove all duplicates from every search and only showing each unique image once.

    3 - To give individual contributors priority over distributors.
    4 – To allow individual photographers to set the price for the use of their images.
    5 – To pay photographers 100% of the fees collected for the use of their images.
The disadvantage of participation is that instead of being able to post images for free as is the case on all microstock sites there is a $40 per month fee, plus $0.15 per gigabyte per month for image storage, to advertise an unlimited number of royalty free images. (The $40 is for those who sign up during the beta period and is locked in for life. Photographers will not actually be charged this fee until the project comes out of beta.)

Currently PicturEngine has images from iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Fotolia, Bigstock, Depositphotos, Yay, 123RF and pixmac. Undoubtedly, other microstock sites will be added soon. In addition they have images from Getty Images, Corbis, Alamy, AGE, Masterfile, Superstock, ImageSource, Fotosearch, Veer, Aurora, Jupiterimages and Thinkstock to name some of the agencies represented. At launch the site (presently in photographer beta) will have almost 200,000,000 unique images.

The advantages of participation for individual microstock photographers include:

1 – If a PicturEngine customer searches for an image that could be found in one or many of the distributors listed above, and the photographer also has the same image in his PicturEngine account, the image from the photographer’s account will always be shown instead of the image represented by any of the distributors. The price the photographer has set will be the only price the customer sees. If the customer purchases the image the photographer receives 100% of the fee.

– Photographers will be able to place all images, including those distributor’s might have rejected, into their personal PicturEngine accounts.

3 – Payment by the buyer will be made directly into the photographer’s paypal account. Thus, there will be no delay in receiving payment and the photographer will have information about the buyer. PicturEngine does not touch any license money. The buyer can use one cart that contains the images of several photographers, and only perform one checkout action. In the case of the distributors represented, the buyer will be sent to the distributor’s web site and the financial transaction will take place there.
4 – Images with the exact same keywords have a better chance of appearing early in the search return order than if they were delivered from a distributor site because PicturEngine photographers are given preference over distributors. If the search is so specific that only a few images meet the requirements then this would not be an issue. But, with 200 million images in the collection it seems likely that most searches will return several hundreds, if not thousands, of images. Being higher up may make the difference between the image being seen or ignored.

5 – Even if the photographer charges the same or lower fee as his distributor he will earn more money for each sale due to the much higher royalty. In most cases non-exclusive photographers will want to charge the higher fees that are more in line with what customers have shown they are willing to pay for exclusive images.

6 – It is unclear how the site will be promoted, but it will probably be marketed more to high end users than to the vast majority of microstock customers. Thus, those who eventually use PicturEngine may be more willing to pay more for the images they need than the average microstock price.

Issues To Consider

  • Will 200,000,000 choices turn customers off rather than encourage them to use the site?
  • Will customers who currently use multiple microstock sites like the fact that they don’t have to look at the same images over and over again?
  • Will customers be turned off because they can’t focus their search toward a group of images in a particular price range?
  • Will they be turned off because they will be unable to search for RF images only?
  • Will art directors and image buyers who are also image contributors see the advantage of earning higher fees when their images are licensed and thus encourage their friends to use the PicturEngine site.
If PicturEngine is unable to generate traffic then participating photographers will be out not only the time and effort to upload, but the $40 per month and the image storage fees. On the other hand since they will receive significantly higher fees each time one of their images is licensed it seems likely that it won’t take many sales to offset the monthly fees.
For more information about Picture Engine check out the following stories: “PicturEngine: New Portal” and “Marketing PicturEngine.”

Copyright © 2012 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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