Will More Images Grow Revenue?

Posted on 5/2/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Will more images in an agency collection grow revenue? Is more choice always better? Shutterstock is adding 1,608,350 new images a week to its collection. That’s 229,764 new images a day. The average customer reviews 500 or fewer returns before changing search parameters. So how do they make it possible for customers to review all those new images?

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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.  


  • Thomas Wear Posted May 4, 2019
    Just a quick note on the Shutterstock to Adobe comparison. Shutterstock (and iStock and others) accepts unreleased "editorial" images, which opens up room for tons of images that Adobe won't take, especially "travel" photos with unreleased people and places. So Adobe isn't necessarily being any more selective than Shutterstock et al, just that there's a huge class of images they won't consider. But that might prove attractive for those shooting commercial images, since they may be part of a smaller pool, and one more specifically marketed to those clients.

    The revenue growth comparisons are interesting, but need to be understood in the context that Shutterstock, being older, is probably pretty close to a plateau in market penetration, while Adobe is still growing. Since Adobe seems to be (so far anyway) ignoring the "editorial" market, which is a larger consumer of images than "advertising", I do have to wonder how much more Adobe can increase its sales going forward.
    In my limited experience, in 2018 Shutterstock's Return Per Image (an imperfect but easy to determine stat) was considerably higher than Adobe's. Though that is without identical image sets to compare, so it's not a completely accurate indicator, but the different was about 3X.

    The good news is that there's really no need to choose one or the other since in general microstock agencies are non-image-exclusive (a few like iStock offer somewhat higher royalty rates for exclusives, but IMHO it's not really worth it, since the prices are so low anyway -- better to spread the images as widely as possible.) Each additional distributor requires some additional work after upload to conform to the agency's specific requirements, but in general the majority of the work (captions, keywords, enhancement of the image,etc.) is done before doing any uploading, so widely distributing the images increases the potential return on that work.

    OK, so it wasn't "a quick note"...

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