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Stock Imagery's Shifting Landscape

(January 2008) posted on Thu Jan 10, 2008

As microstock continues its move forward, other trends also emerge

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By Clare Baker

And while Grossman believes that the rights-managed model does have a lasting place in the industry, he acknowledges that because there are times when images need only be "good enough," there is some pressure on the rights-managed and high-end royalty-free models to demonstrate why they’re worth the extra money." These models, he says, will need to "raise the bar," and be justified in their cost to remain successful.

New sets of customers

To adjust to stock-photography market changes, more agencies are now looking for ways to better meet the changing needs of both existing and potential clients. For some, that means owning a piece of the microstock pie. Getty and Jupitermedia both acquired microstock sites in 2006, and Jupitermedia also operates a number of sub microstock sites. Corbis recently took the plunge with SnapVillage (, which launched in June of this year.

Corbis is also looking to develop the "interactive" content on its site, which Cole identifies as the primary need for customers at this point. "There is this huge trend toward multi-media today which is bringing still, video, and music together to create strong media packages. We’re looking forward to see how we can best service that from not just a pricing play, but from a product and distribution platform as well."

For its part, Getty has created and restructured image-licensing models to accommodate those customers that are looking for licensing solutions to better fit their needs. Last year, Getty introduced the rights-ready model, "as a response to market demand for high-quality imagery where the pricing was based on uses," but did not involve as complicated a licensing model as rights-managed, LeVasseur explains. Rights-ready allows users to pay a flat-rate price and use an image for any need within a chosen usage category-commercial use, editorial use, internal use, etc. Recently, Getty added four more usage categories to the original eight for even greater customer freedom and flexibility. The company also announced that it is offering exclusivity on rights-ready imagery; previously that option was not available. LeVasseur says that the model has been a success so far. "We’re seeing an increasing number of customers adopt rights-ready and the growth has been very strong."