Who Are The Users Of Stock Photography?

Posted on 7/27/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

I was asked recently if I had a breakdown of the stock images uses by various categories of industry users. The answer is NO, and as far as I know no one else has done that type of analysis. However, it occurred to me that it might be useful to develop some broad general ideas of what the breakdowns might be.

I doubt if Getty or Shutterstock breaks down their data in this way and certainly no one else does. If they did, I would think they would be doing a better job of encouraging suppliers to produce the type of imagery that is in demand by certain markets.

It seems to me that I can divide the market into 7 general categories of user. They are:

    Advertising Agencies
    Graphic Design Firms
    Corporations (in house buyers from various business organizations)
    Publications (Magizines, Newspapers)
    Educational  Publishers

    Video Use Only
    Small Users (That don’t fit in any of the other categories and spend less than $5,000 a year on stock visual content.)
I would then breakdown each group to those that (1) spend over $50,000 annually, (2) spend between $5,000 and $50,000 annually, and (3) spend less than $5,000 annually. I might even break the Small Users and Graphic Design Firms down to (4) less than $2,000 annual spend, because it seems to me that there are a significant number of occasional users that don’t spend more than $2,000 a year.

I would also look at both the (1) combined gross annual revenue generated by customers in each category, and (2) total pieces of content downloaded (used) annually by the customers in each category.

Finally, it would be interesting to break down that content into (1) still photos, (2) illustration and (3) video clips.

If we could get worldwide statistics for the entire industry my guess is that the breakdowns of Total Revenue and Pieces of Content Used would be roughly the following:

  Total Pieces of
  Revenue Content Used
Advertising Agencies 14% 8%
Graphic Design Firms 20% 25%
Corporations (in house buyers) 11% 7%
Publications (Magizines, Newspapers) 16% 14%
Educational Publishers 11% 18%
Video Only 5% 3%
Small Users (don't fit other categories) 23% 25%

My guess is that worldwide fewer than 0.5% of the companies spend more than $50,000 a year and another 2% spend between $5,000 and $50,000. The majority could be spending less than $2,500 a year.

The Educational publisher segment has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years. In the 90s they used a higher percentage of total content, but their share of revenue was somewhat lower. Now, as they produce fewer printed books and a lot more digital courses they tend to use a lot more images, but they have been able structure their deals so their overall spend is about the same, or a little less.

The word “industry” might also refer to such segments as: energy production, banking, food service, airlines, agriculture, retail, etc. This information would be very useful to image creators, but as far as I know no one is attempting to do any analysis, or breakdown like this.

There are certainly stock photo agencies that specialize in producing images for certain industry segments, but most of them are very small compared to the whole market and it is very difficult to estimate how big the total market segment is that they might address.

Copyright © 2018 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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