Why Mobile Stock is the Future of the Industry


I organized a panel at the recent PACA ( the Digital Media Licensing Association) conference around mobile photography and image licensing. I invited four companies representative of what is going on in this space  to show that the next major disruption in the professional image licensing world will come from your mobile phone.

The companies on the panel were EyeEm, ImageBrief, Foap and Clashot. It is highly recommended you check them out . There are many more, like Snapwi.re , RooM, Scoopshot, Fotolia Instant as well as some still in development. These are the frontrunners of what will be the next major disruption in the professional image licensing world.

Cell Phone Cameras Poised to Overtake DSLR

Everyone is now fully aware that mobile phone cameras are going to replace professional DSLR. It is just a question of time. Already, this year, there have been more phone cameras sold than point and shoots. One main reason: Phone cameras can now do pretty much what any point and shoot delivers but are less bulky to carry, not to mention we carry them all the time. While DSLR cameras offer much more than point and shoots, phone cameras are a serious threat because of the high-quality files they offer.

It’s no secret that print is dying. Slowly, we see print publication’s dwindling and there is no sign of that trend changing. Everyone is moving to screen-based publishing with various success. There is less and less need for large image files. Online, everything is 72 dpi with 1024 pixel wide on average. Some phones today deliver much bigger files than that.

We all know that laptops have mostly replaced desktop, and tablets are starting to put a serious dent in the laptop industry. Just like with cameras, cheaper, more convenient options are taking over the industry.

In other words, technology trends are clearly showing us that the future of image consumption is screen based and screen based only. Wether online or via an app download, all images will soon be only used for those two formats.

Technology evolution is also showing us that speed and replication are becoming fundamentals in photography. Speed, because no one expect to wait to see an image and any delays is perceived as a failure. Replication because, in the online world, if its not easily sharable, it shouldn’t exist.

This is for the technology triggers.

Stock Photography Will Also Feel the Effects

There is also another fundamental shift happening. Up until now, it has been thought that the stock photography world should offer a vast array of choices to satisfy an unquantified demand. In other words, create a massive offer in the hopes that some of it will match a demand. This is the model of Getty, Alamy, Shutterstock and others have currently perfected. It is highly inefficient as maybe only 10 percent of all images stocked in these databases actually find a buyer.

In an always-on and connected world, it is possible to query the demand side before offering a match. In other words, create an offer based on a existing demand. No need for massive, mostly dormant databases, no need for sophisticated search algorithms. Instead, link a demand to an offer, buyers to creators.

More and more mobile stock companies are offering this service. A brand or ad agency writes a brief which is then submitted to a wide network of photographers. The best matching image gets rewarded by a pre-approved fee, ranging from $50 to $5,000+ depending on the service used. Photographers have a choice to go shoot the image or just look in their existing database of images. Because these services are mobile first (you have to download their app to participate), most images are taken with a cell phone. While today, this might create some usage limitations, it will not very soon (see above). It also offers both sides the opportunity to play in the current zeilgeist by using tools like Instagram, snapseed and others. Finally, constraints breeds creativity.

This model also offers a very simple and efficient licensing model that anyone can quickly understand. One fee either covers all usage or one fee covers usage specified in the brief.

Why does it work so well on mobile ? Because everyone carries their phone everywhere, and a demand can be fulfilled quickly. Say goodbye to frustrated image buyers.

It also taps into more creativity because buyers can get much more customized content instead of buying generic stock images. That customized content is what could kill traditional stock imagery more than anything else.

 


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