Random Thoughts 136

Posted on 5/24/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)



May 24, 2007

Publishing Challenge: Popularity of User-Generated Content

Over half (57%) of the respondents to the annual Accenture survey of senior media and entertainment executives identified the rapid growth of user-generated content as one of the top three challenges they face today. Respondents included 110 advertising, film, music, publishing, radio, Internet, videogame and TV professionals working in North America and Europe.

Among the multiple formats of user-generated content - which includes amateur digital videos, podcasts, mobile-phone photography, wikis and social-media blogs - short-form video is identified by 53% as having the highest growth potential in its industry over the next five years. In contrast, respondents view consumer and business publishing as only marginally important, with only 9% and 4%, respectively, attributing high-growth potential to these two segments.

The survey results highlight the importance of questions that many stock providers have already begun to address. Will short-form video need the same type of stock video clips now used in TV ads? Will TV ads migrate to the Internet, resulting in Internet use growing at the same rate as television use declines? Predictions for the latter have abounded for nearly a decade, yet television remains the dominant market for footage providers.

According to the ACSIL Global Survey of Stock Footage Companies 2007 (see story 963), television represents 66% of footage sales. What will happen to this market share if, in migrating to the Internet, advertisers turn to user-generated footage? With several recent ventures offering access to such content - ShutterStock, RevoStock and iStockvideo - the stock-footage industry segment is next to experience the effects of the micro-payment business model.

Microstock vs. Traditional Imagery: the Case Against One-Stop Shopping

By: Julia Dudnik Stern

Stock Image Market Sizing: 2007 by the Industry Standard, a specialized research and forecasting firm formerly known as TrendWatch Graphic Arts, reported that single-sourcing was the prevailing industry trend, with 38% of survey respondents using a single stock house of all their image needs (see story 951). Clearly, some buyers prefer the convenience of one-stop shopping. However, the bigger segment of the market continues to use a number of image sources, primarily because each services a different need.

GlideDesign, a young Austin, Texas-based Web and print studio with an impressive portfolio, is an excellent example. It uses several types of stock services and relies most heavily on two: a subscription-based, royalty-free library and a microstock site. We spoke with GlideDesign's Travis McAshan as he was looking for a new subscription service. He had used Getty Images' Creative Subscription for a year and was "fairly unhappy" with the quality and depth of the offering. McAshan eventually went with photos.com, but what's interesting is his view of the different roles subscription and microstock services play in GlideDesign's work.

In response to our question about sticking with microstock alone, McAshan said, "We use iStockphoto on a regular basis. However, the majority of this imagery is shot digitally and is generally of lower quality, not necessarily in terms of photographic skill, but in the professional look of the models. iStock is great for objects. There might be three good pictures of a fire hydrant on Getty and literally hundreds on iStock. I think the main reason for this is that you don't have to pay the hydrant for permission to use its picture. Hence, we generally try to use subscription accounts for people and iStock for everything else."

GlideDesign is not unique in using more than one stock service, as designers and art directors have to consider multiple factors in making the decision of which image provider to use. In addition to the subject matter, these include the size of a project's budget, the uniqueness and timeliness of the image and the need for exclusivity. One set of needs implies microstock, while another may necessitate high-end rights-managed images. At present, no one stock company offers access to every option in one centralized location -Getty Images' Creative Subscription and iStockphoto operating as two separate businesses is a case in point. The single-sourcing phenomenon reported by the Industry Standard is difficult to rationalize.

Perhaps some image buyers have unlimited budgets, allowing the use of rights-managed and royalty-free images through one provider. Others may not be as particular as McAshan about image quality or may narrowly specialize in work that is not heavily image-dependent. In addition, the Industry Standard's methodology or sample size and type may have had an influence on the survey results. In all, it seems unlikely that one-stop shopping is a trend that warrants significant attention - mostly because it is inherently limiting on image buyers.

Copyright © 2007 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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