Visual Photos Expands to Russia

Posted on 6/3/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Hertzliya, Israel-based Visual Photos has opened an office in Moscow. The expansion is a joint venture with Russian partner MediaRight, a content-syndication company with a previous focus on audio.

Visual Photos was established in 1989. According to president Erez Miller, the stock company was among the first in the world to launch a searchable Web site. Today, it is the only regional stock-licensing operation with offices in Israel, Greece and Turkey.

Most major international stock brands and agencies, including Masterfile, Photolibrary, age fotostock, Digital Vision and Image Source, are represented in the Visual Photos collection of 4.5 rights-managed and royalty-free images. Miller adds that Visual Photos is the exclusive Corbis representative in Israel. The company also produces it own stock, mainly of holy locations and other local destinations.

In expanding to Russia, Miller hopes to capitalize on one of the fastest-growing international markets. Visual Photos estimates Russian ad spending at $7 billion in 2006 and $9 billion in 2007. The upward trend is expected to continue; Miller projects 2008 ad revenues to eclipse $11 billion. "While TV takes the lion's share of ad spending, print spending in Russia is predicted to increase, which is contrary to the flat or decreasing ad spending in most of the world," says Miller, contending that Russian print magazine readership is still growing.

Though experts differ on figures, there is a general consensus that Central and Eastern Europe are leading the world in ad growth. For example, Zenith Optimedia calculates this region's growth rate at 18% per year. Zenith also says that Russia doubles its ad spending each year, with Serbia, Urkaine, Moldova, Belarus and Romania demonstrating similar growth.

Miller also points to a favorable copyright climate. "The Russian Federation took serious anti-piracy measures in order to enter the World Trade Organization," he explains. Miller thinks that ongoing reforms will diminish the previously popular piracy practices and increase spending on copyrighted content.

Visual Photos felt that it needed a strong local partner to penetrate this large market. MediaRight's expertise in music licensing and a client base spanning Russian media, advertising and editorial markets made it an ideal fit. In addition, MediaRight CEO Sergey Skorupa said that the company has long wanted to diversify into photo and video distribution. "The Visual Photos platform, including the back-office management software, are exactly what we needed," he said.

The Visual Photos' inventory and back-end have been adapted to the Russian Federation's tax and accounting rules. The new office is located in the Red Square area, and its new manager Viktor Maslov is attending this week's CEPIC Congress.

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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