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Stock Imagery: Winds of Change

(July 2010) posted on Fri Jul 16, 2010

Image providers are helping users create more effective messages.

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By Kacey King

Alamy: We’re also seeing a continued increase in imagery as cameras become more efficient and more affordable.

Fotolia: Without question, contributor competition increases every day. Professional cameras and products are more affordable and more user-friendly than ever. That means the quality of the content being uploaded is increasing. The advantage to buyers is obvious.

Shutterstock: We’re also seeing healthy competition among stock contributors who provide high-quality images, and who use increasingly professional equipment to shoot better images.

Getty Images: Getty is seeing a huge impact from consumer-shot imagery, both in terms of volume and quality.

And what trends are you seeing in royalty-free (RF) and/or micro-stock versus rights-managed (RM) stock?
Dreamstime: As the quality of amateur content improves, there’s a strong migration from traditional stock agencies toward microstock. Microstock’s main characteristics are: lower prices, bigger databases with a broader selection to choose from, and community-oriented platforms. The openness of the platforms helps its growth, which far overcomes any traditional agencies. This doesn’t translate just in a bigger number of images, but in more authentic and contemporary imagery.

Getty Images: Microstock is heavily subscribed to, driven primarily by its price point and ease of use. Online and digital use of images continues to grow. Customers are no longer willing to pay the prices they used to for images because of the wide range of choices they now have. This is challenging for stock-image producers since return per use for them has declined. This means more volume and less return per use for producers.

RF imagery is the most frequently purchased content among our customers as it has a lower price point. However, we are still seeing customers license RM imagery for their higher-end uses. While it may not be in the same volume when compared to RF, the revenue from RM continues to remain strong.