Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Getty Sales And Numbers For Thought

This road that splits into a fork is a concept image about choice and directions.
In the stock industry choices have to be made about price vs. volume and which direction both photographers and agencies are going to choose. Make that choice wisely!

My latest Getty sales report looked a little different than usual. A While back, through some sort of “glitch” Getty mistakenly included a few of my images in the Thinkstock collection (and I believe the images have since been removed). Some of those sales showed up last month and some again this month. Last month I kind of shrugged them off, but this month I decided to take a closer look.

What caught my eye was that a few of the images seemed to be doing quite well. One of my images sold 46 times out of Thinkstock, another sold 42 times, and a third image sold eleven times.  You know that whole thing about volume making up for lower sales prices? Well, here is a very small and very unscientific look at that proposition, because each of those above images were also still available as RF images on the Getty site giving me an opportunity to compare how they did at subscription prices on the Thinkstock site as opposed to how they did at “traditional” RF prices on the Getty site.

The first image, with 46 Thinkstock sales, netted me…are you ready…$18.40. The image sold as an RF image off of the Getty site four times for a total of $1,312.86.  Hmmm…I think I’ll take the RF! But what about the next image? That one, with 42 subscription sales brought in $16.80. It only sold twice on the Getty site, but brought in $31.20.  Again…I’ll take the RF. The third image sold 11 times at Thinkstock, bringing in $4.44. It sold twice as an RF image and brought in $155.26.

As I said, this is such a small sampling over such a short time period that drawing conclusions should only be done with the utmost caution.  However, it does reinforce my suspicions that I am better off with higher priced imagery. There is a price point at which the volume just does not make up for the low prices. That concerns me since there seems to be a movement of clients away from the higher priced sites, including microstock sites such as iStockphoto, and towards the less expensive agencies such as Shutterstock.

Whenever I peruse microstock sites I just can’t believe that some of those incredible images are available at such low prices. It is going to be very interesting to see how the industry does in the coming years. How are agencies (and photographers) going to succeed if they compete on price? The images I mentioned above each took hours of post-production work above and beyond the photography involved. I am just not seeing how subscription pricing would justify my work (though again, this is a miniscule sampling). I am hopeful (thought sometimes I wonder why) that agencies are going to figure this out and because I am producing consistently at as high a level of quality as I can, that I will do well as a result.

By the way, a few weeks ago a Blend Images Photographer had a sale, of an RF image, of $60,000.00. Of course, those little victories are more akin to winning the lottery than anything else, but it is important to realize that there are still clients out there who are willing to pay for the right image!

So is the answer for agencies to provide better searches, exclusive content or a better experience? I really don’t know, but I do know that my brief taste of the results of rock bottom pricing is a bitter one!