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The stock image market was in good shape in the mid-1990s. Good-quality photographs, stable stock photography prices, great demand, and limited supply made it a lucrative sector. However, the advent of the internet turned the market upside down. Customers and end-users began looking for ways to get these images at low prices for longer durations. The RF license thus made its way into the market. Synonymous with nearly unlimited usage, images that carried this license must be sold for fixed prices based on the file size. Subscriptions became the norm. Five years later, these libraries began shifting to the digital base, and the revenue growth was strong. Like every other high-profit-making industry, it invited solid competition. Many countermeasures were released in response to the competition, including lowering royalty rates, offering micro-prices, and driving up sub-distribution agreements. This resulted in chaos, with the photography commission being thrown in a bind and aggregators and distributors taking up more revenue share. The rising penetration of animation production, a rapid shift to vertical formats, blockchain technology making inroads, social issues trumping mindless consumerism, increasing penetration of AI & ML in stock content, growth of platform integrations, and mobile stock losing its sheen are the growing trends in the stock images and videos market.
AI-Powered Solutions to Lead the Future of the Market
In the stock image market, vendors increasingly introduce AI platforms and tools to enhance their offerings. These AI-powered solutions are designed to revolutionize the way customers search for and utilize stock images. By leveraging machine learning and computer vision algorithms, these platforms can analyze and understand the content of images, enabling more accurate and relevant search results.
In early 2023, Shutterstock launched a new AI image generator – Shutterstock Generate. This tool came out because of the partnership between Dall-E & Shutterstock. It is a text-to-image generator that utilizes the Dall-E model, specifically trained using Shutterstock’s content library. This unique approach ensures legal compliance and transparency throughout the image generation process. When users download the generated images through the app, they are licensed by Shutterstock, providing a reliable and authorized source for usage.
Microstock Market Gaining Huge Popularity, and Macrostock Market to Recover in the Upcoming Years
Microstock has recreated the industry demands and has found even more popularity during the pandemic. The rise of the World Wide Web brought a rush of new highly digital businesses that needed a strong online presence and marketing collateral for their offline efforts. These start-ups have largely been attributed to the success of this relatively new, stably growing online image market. However, the advent of microstock has led macrostock agencies to lose their customers to the former. While these heavy hitters have firmly grounded their revenues, accounting for the largest share of the market, their growth has slowed down comparatively in recent years.
Major agencies are currently swaying towards acquiring more crowd-sourced images to increase their authenticity and revenues. However, some players, such as Stocksy, are betting on platform cooperatives, which aim to preserve the strength and integrity of the artist community for sustainable long-term growth. Compared to macrostock agencies, microstock is swift to act on innovation and adapt to new image technologies. From efforts gained at breaking new ground, such as the embed initiatives, to trailblazing partnerships with technology companies, social networks, publishing platforms, events, and the like, macrostock companies are on a roll. All of this, though, is an effort to bring the market back to its good days. For instance, Getty Images partnered with the Rugby Africa Gold Cup board to offer images of its competition to its customers.
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Competition in the Stock Images and Videos Market is Intensifying Across the Globe
Getty Images, Visual China Group, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock are the four major vendors that dominate the market. Several vendors in this market have a global presence, creating strong brand images for their products. In addition, several small and large vendors are altering the stock photography business with new approaches and models, such as making mobile a platform. With many of these vendors trying to cut costs due to the shrinking revenues, offering any service apart from the basic limits their growth. Several larger players have witnessed a decline in revenues over the last couple of years due to consolidation that devalued the market.
Getty Images is a leading vendor in the market. It works with hundreds of image partners, 200,000 contributors, and over 160,000 sports, news, and entertainment events.
Visual China Group is another significant player in the market. The company has over 600 employees, serving over 15,000 media outlets, advertisers, and other organizations. It has hundreds of image partners and 14,000 contributors globally.
Shutterstock is another large player in the market. It has about 1.8 million active paying customers, over 350,000 contributors, more than 9 million video clips, and 170 million images available for license.
Adobe Stock is a significant player in the market, offering over 90 million assets.
Key Company Profiles
Hanhua Yimei Visual Technology
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Can Stock Photo
Death to Stock
NHK VIDEO BANK
The Mega Agency
Films & TV Producers
Media & Publishing Companies
Business & Individual Creators
Middle East & Africa
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