Web Uses: You Have Built It. Will They Come?

Posted on 8/21/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

While there has been plenty of buzz about the size of the blogger market and its purchasing power, most stock-image retailers have thus far concentrated on the product end of the business: offering the right image sizes at the right price. Naturally, microstock sellers have been winning the war for market share in this particular space, because they were the first to discover this market by offering low-priced imagery. Traditional agencies are just now starting to compete at the product level, but microstocks and other newcomers are still outpacing the core of the image industry in the most important area: delivery.


This week’s news announcement of the first microstock WordPress plugin by German entrepreneur Amos Struck aptly illustrates this point. The plugin allows operators of blogs and Web sites built with WordPress technology to search, purchase and embed Fotolia images into posts directly from the WordPress back-end interface. This sounds simple, and perhaps not so new to some. PicApp’s WordPress plugin allows ad-supported imagery to be inserted into posts, free of charge (though the still-in-beta offering is getting mixed reviews). Photopreneur’s iFlickr for WordPress provides the same type of access to a host of free imagery hosted on the photo-sharing Web site. Yet none of such products accomplishes the same thing as Struck’s new launch: bringing buyers to an image seller from a familiar, trusted and routinely used environment of a popular blogging platform.


Consider Getty Images’ recent expansion of its Web and mobile offering. On one hand, it is momentous, because it offers bloggers and online publishers access to premium—in both quality and timing—news and celebrity content at unprecedented price points of $5 and up. On the other, most bloggers who routinely buy from microstocks and use WordPress have never heard of Getty.


Obviously, there is no need to cry for the Seattle company. Yes, the new product appears, for the moment, to be largely a response to existing customer needs; however, Getty says it has had tremendous success attracting new customers with its $49 Web-use license. Thought there has been no obvious evidence of any special marketing push targeting the low-end customer currently dominated by microstock, this does not mean such an effort is not forthcoming or already taking place. Still, for a company with the leading global traditional image-distribution network, it appears to be selling new, lower-cost products into that same network—instead of building a new distribution network for new customers and uses.


Where is the Getty WordPress plugin? Why is the global image leader not attempting to sell through the no-cost, publicly open API of the leading blogging platform? The newly private company probably has very good answers to these and a host of other questions but is likely to continue keeping its strategy close to the vest. At the same time, there is no doubt that most smaller agencies simply do not have any strategy for reaching the blogger buyer pool—other than discounting images to blogger-affordable levels, offering collections through third parties (such as GumGum and PicApp), getting Facebook and Twitter accounts, and hoping that buyers will somehow find them. What agencies are forgetting is that these new buyers already have plenty of alternatives.




This is certainly a problem, if independent agencies and the photographers who supply their images intend to stay in business. Uses are increasingly migrating to the Internet, and companies like Dreamstime, Fotolia and iStockphoto are making it easier by the day to find and purchase their imagery. Just last week, Dreamstime launched a Facebook application that will certainly boost the micro-company's sales. These companies are not simply present on social networks, community and blogging Web sites—they are there in ways that make other site users’ lives easier by offering tools that facilitate efficient image search and purchase.


What’s more is that they are accomplishing this with low-cost technological solutions that build on existing open APIs. The only thing stopping traditional agencies from doing the same is, painfully, a lack of innovation, rooted perhaps in an understandable but deadly resistance to change.




Copyright © 2009 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

Comments

  • Rohn Engh Posted Aug 21, 2009
    What a well-worded explanation!

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