Fast-Growing Alamy Adds Nearly One Million Images in Q1

This week, U.K-based stock photography portal Alamy released first quarter 2007 figures on contributors, percentage revenue and average pricing. In the quarter they added 920,952 images to their collection, which now totals more than eight million images.

Alamy does not release revenue, except to provide average price-per-image licensed figures. Thirty-four percent of revenue came from RF sales at an average price-per-image of $155, and 66 percent from RM at an average price of $222. About 90 percent of their sales were for editorial use with an average price of $130.

Commercial uses make up about 10 percent of their sales with an average price of $378 during the quarter. Alamy has been making a concerted effort to increase the proportion of its commercial sales, but to little effect. In the first quarter of 2006, commercial sales represented 11 percent of Alamy’s total.

While the average price for an RM editorial use has been relatively stable over the last two years, ranging from a high of $137 to a low of $122, the average price for an RM commercial use has trended downward with Q1 of each year being the highest quarter for the year. The average for Q1 2007 was $378 down from $389 in Q1 2006, and $423 in Q1 2005.

For image suppliers, the most useful measurement is average-annual-return-per-image in the file, a figure that cannot be calculated from the data Alamy provides. In talking to photographers, some who edit tightly and produce high demand subject matter indicate that they earn an RPI of about $10. Many earn a figure somewhat less than this.

I would be surprised if Alamy’s overall gross sales are greater than five dollars per image in the file. Many image suppliers, particularly ones who have had images in the database for a couple years or more, have complained that their RPI has been dropping since Alamy Rank was introduced last fall.

Alamy Rank is a new system for ordering images that are returned as a result of a customer search. The theory behind Alamy Rank is that it will bring the most relevant images in any search to the top and thus make it easier for customers to find the images they need. However, with different images being pushed to the top images that were once near the top are automatically being pushed down to the point where they will never seen by customers.

Alamy has been very successful in growing the size of its collection. In the quarter, 3,107 photographers and 183 agencies added images to the collection and Alamy is on track to add about four million new images in 2007.

Among the things that can be gleaned from the Alamy statistics are that the average photographer uploaded 173 images in the quarter, up from 158 in the previous quarter and about the same as in Q3 2006 (175). In Q1 2006, the average photographer uploaded 190 images. The average agency uploaded 2,094 images, down significantly from 2,773 in Q4 2006 and 2,657 in Q3 2006.

In Q1 2006 the average agency uploaded 1,564 images. There could be many factors that affect these averages, including new agencies that might have decided to participate. But the figures might indicate that agencies hit a peak in late 2006 and when revenue projections didn’t match expectations the agencies began to pull back on their participation.

The percent of revenue generated by images from photographers has been steadily going up, and for the first time since Alamy started reporting figures now exceed 50 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of revenue generated by agency images has gone from 57 percent in Q1 2006 to 49 percent in Q1 2007.

More on Alamy’s numbers here and here.

[tags]Alamy, stock photography, Jim Pickerell[/tags]

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