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Author Topic: How to handle 100 Million files  (Read 9415 times)

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« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2011, 13:58 »
"a partner program model that includes only bargain images will never be able to compete"

I agree, especially if they are trying to position Thinkstock as a viable alternative to Shutterstock. Personally I wouldnt mind adding some of my newer files, if I get the option. The non exclsuives already have all fresh files there.

Otherwise any "bargain" outlets can have older and non selling files. I mean, that is why they will be cheap. But i didnt see Thinkstock as a place for old files.

Do you think old files really have to be moved to another site? Couldnt it all be under the same brand?

is the dollarbin such a threat to the regular collection?

I am worried that supporting many, many different sites is extremely expensive, and leads to weakening of the brand. I think this is Seans main argument against the PP program, in addition to his objection to subscriptions in general.

The problem I see is that you cant predict where customers go, if they cant find what they want on your site.

Instead of the "bargain" site you are preparing for them, they might decide to go to the competition.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 14:03 by cobalt »

« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2011, 14:04 »
Another question:

Amazon and iTunes must have lots more products than we have files.

any other commercial sites that have to handle large number of files and sort them for their customers?

Is there anything we can learn from them for stock sites?
« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 14:17 by cobalt »


  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2011, 15:53 »
I think regional content is going to be even more developed. I'm not sure it's always going to be a great thing. Is it the goal to cover every single type of festival/corner of the world? Or is it the goal to sell heavily into markets that buy stock images? iStock certainly seems to be doing a lot in the way of getting into countries and producing culturally/regionally specific content (particularly look at the new lypse requirements limiting attendance to relatively local contributors ).

despite that, I do think there are too many images in the collection and that as a result many are never found, even if salesworthy. I think it's important to upload strategically because of the 'luck-of-the-draw' impact of uploading just before a disadvantageous best match shift. I think it's up to contributors to strategize as much as possible in order to get our work seen. but we're all at the mercy of the massive collection.

SO, I don't pretend to know enough about the ins and outs of the industry on the whole to predict what exponentially growing collections will do to us. but I think we're all seeing the effects of the database growing at a much faster rate than our portfolios. it means we have to run faster and faster to stay in the same place.

« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2011, 15:59 »
Not necessarily. There is a huge world of business people who have never heard of stock. Certainly here in Germany there is loads of room to grow. The webdesigners of the world may know about stock sites, but all the smaller business companies?

I know that many people steal images from the web, but once the time you spend searching for the right file from image sites like flickr is more expensive than going to a stock whenever countries start paying attention to digital content rights.

China, India, South America, Middle East???

« Reply #29 on: July 16, 2011, 17:58 »
"I don't want someone who thinks they know my business and my clients better than me making decisions for me."

best match is always an assumption of what you might like. That is why it is called best match.

What you see in the search now, is what the company thinks you will like to buy. There is programm that goes over the hundred thousands of files that are in the database and comes up with a selection for you.

All stock sites do this now.

Cas, I have a question: how often do you as a buyer go to the artists portfolio? Do you ever look at their landing page? Do you read the artists bio? Do you look at their lightboxes? Do you bookmark an artist and make notes about their speciality?

I always thought best match should fit the keywords that one uses to search most accurately. It clearly is not that, however, but by the name of it, I think that is a safe guess to make.

Yes, I do make not of certain artists if I notice they have a lot of what I like. I will search their portfolios as well. On more rare occasions I will look at their lightboxes.

« Reply #30 on: July 17, 2011, 11:30 »
This is an issue not only for siock photography, but to any kind of application where you have lots of data - websites, of course, also many separated databases and servers within an organization.

Anyway, I am ok that old non-selling images may be even discarded like some sites already do. The only thing that scares any of us is how dependant we are on the site search swings. I used to have one image selling very well in IS (for my standards) and then out of nowhere it stopped selling.

Keyword spamming is impossible to avoid, given that we can always edit them. Keyword categories like Alamy uses is an intelligent choice to help the search engine, but it's too late to apply that in the micros (remember the pain when disambiguation was introduced?).

I also believe that the search engine is the solution. Search for "blue hat", "soccer ball" or "USA flag" in IS, DT and FT and see who has the best results.

The idea of regional tweaking is interesting. If I am a buyer in Brazil and I search for "football", I want soccer football, not US football. I guess the same apply for most European buyers. BTW, I went to all three sites in portuguese and IS did not find anything with "futebol"?  ???


  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #31 on: July 17, 2011, 11:39 »
^ good example (brazil = football/soccer). regional searching seems like a good idea, but it makes me a bit nervous anytime they talk about any kind of major change to the search. if they are pushing regional results, I hope they keep the results a mixed bag with some regional but some more universal results i.e. Brazilian designers may indeed be looking for American football images rather than soccer when they search (maybe not in this example but you know what I mean hopefully).

the search on iStock seems to be working quite well these days. I perform test searches each week just to keep an eye on best match and my portfolio, new upload placements etc....and the search is working tickety boo. it's fast and drilling down goes quite smoothly compared to just months ago.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 12:09 by SNP »

« Reply #32 on: July 17, 2011, 11:58 »
Ive been looking a lot at the itunes and amazon stores and wondered what we can learn from it. The most important insight it gave me how extremely important it is to establish yourself as a "brand", as an artist, so that people remember your name, your portfolio, your style.

No matter how many artists there are in the itunes music store - there will also be new songs and new bands and their success in the store is directly linked to the strength of their brand.

Musicians of course do a lot of outside efforts to create a following - concerts, events, interviews, website, fan events. But they always have a recognizable style. Billy Ido did make a Xmas Cd, but usually they stay within one genre with recognizable elements.

But for the stock artist I think it is important to really see your portfolio as your webshop, that you want to draw your own loyal following of buyers to. Even if people try to copy your style, you will still be way ahead of them if you offer a very comprehensive, well executed portfolio in your favorite subject. If you move deeper and deeper into a theme either by subject (everything about animal vets) or a special style (all grungy food shots) it should help your portfolio survive longterm.

You can even combine different file types (photo, video, vector...) around a certain subject or a certain style.

Doesnt mean, you cant shoot other things in between, but a speciality is important.

From this I would suggest that it is in the interest of the agencies to strengthen the customer awareness about the individual artist. Many customers are not even aware that the images, like music, are produced by individual artists. When I started buying images, I thought the images are produced by the agency. And apparently Getty has a large collection of images that were shot for them.

So just like world of music can survive with a sheer endless number of songs because we all have different music tastes, I think stock sites can hold a huge number of content to cater to different visual tastes.

On istock we already have "friends" what used to be called creative network. But unfortunately a lot of the networking in the visual community is moving towards facebook. This is good for facebook, but not for the traffic on istock. Nobody is going to search facebook for stock artists.

In general I hope agencies encourage both buyers and sellers to spend as much time on the site as possible. That will again minimize the risk of the buyers going elsewhere. And for the artist it might be helpful if they received more information about their customer type. For instance we could be given information in which countries our images were sold. Or at least the information: private buyer/commercial buyer.

We could use this information to become more aware who our buyers are and target them better. Not just with images, but with all social media. For instance, if I know my Xmas images where mostly being bought by private individuals, I would maybe create blog posts about private christmas ceremonies, home decoration etc...if my buyers are more commercial clients, I could create a blog post that focusses on easy xmas cards for companies (just an example, you can probably come up with something better).

So encouraging the artists to think of their "brand" and to educate the buyers that they are working with as individual artists encourage both to interact, could help manage huge amounts of images.

You go from just "doing searches" to matching up "visual interest groups".

So the networking function should be encouraged and enhanced, looking at the circles on google seems like an interesting soltuion. Otherwise - how about allowing buyers to collect artists with personal notes somewhere. And please add a simple anonymus "follow" function. As a buyer I dont always want to "network". Sometimes I just want to follow without being seen (and without announcing to a competing webdesigner which artists I prefer).
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 12:21 by cobalt »


  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #33 on: July 17, 2011, 12:40 »
it may be obvious to compare iStock/getty to Amazon or iTunes...but I really don't think you can. there are more reasons, IMO, that they are incomparable than reasons you can compare them. to start with, Amazon and iTunes have universal demographics (I'm not referring to regions only) but ages, subgroups according to genre or product category...not to mention cross marketing platforms with companies like Airmiles and Aeroplan etc.

Amazon does not have a direct relationship with its sellers either. As an author, my publisher didn't sell my book directly through Amazon, but instead used one of many distribution firms that supply Amazon and provide logistical support. In fact, as much as it's important to have presence online, publishers take a big hit when selling via Amazon/Indigo/Barnes and Noble due to the middle man's take.

iTunes - well, you'd have to taken into account all the product tie-ins and that their target demographic (everyone, but primarily teens and young adults) is the most lucrative on the planet.

Where I think we can compare iTunes with stock is that artists on iTunes (their labels actually) do so much of the marketing. As artists, I think it's important to market ourselves and the sites we sell through. I certainly do this as much as possible but could always do more of it.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 13:07 by SNP »

« Reply #34 on: July 17, 2011, 12:51 »
Regarding learning from the way Amazon's search handles millions of books, actually Amazon may be learning from microstock.

Amazon did not have a 'real' keyword search for paper books - when users searched for books by keyword, the search engine searched using only the title and subtitle/description of the book. Authors/publishers did not submit lists of keywords the way that we microstockers do.

Now Amazon is allowing users to 'tag' products with keywords. Something like the way that iStock tried to use submitters to crowdsource the keywording of images in the 'disambiguation' program.

« Reply #35 on: July 17, 2011, 13:11 »
Brazilian designers may indeed be looking for American football images rather than soccer when they search (maybe not in this example but you know what I mean hopefully).

Sure, but then one would look for "futebol americano", as we call it. In this aspect, I would expected IS to do a better job with its CV. An image tagged "soccer" would be translated as "futebol", and one tagged "football" would be translated "futebol americano". But then the bikini you call thong here is "fio dental" ("dental floss"). :D  Someone typing "fio dental" might be looking for the bikini or the tooth cleaner, but wouldn't be surprised with any of these results.

It is still an issue however that a UK buyer wants soccer if he types "football". I guess there are many English words with completely different meanings. We have this problem with Portugal too.


  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #36 on: July 17, 2011, 13:25 »
Sure, but then one would look for "futebol americano", as we call it. In this aspect, I would expected IS to do a better job with its CV. An image tagged "soccer" would be translated as "futebol", and one tagged "football" would be translated "futebol americano". But then the bikini you call thong here is "fio dental" ("dental floss"). :D  Someone typing "fio dental" might be looking for the bikini or the tooth cleaner, but wouldn't be surprised with any of these results.

It is still an issue however that a UK buyer wants soccer if he types "football". I guess there are many English words with completely different meanings. We have this problem with Portugal too.

good point

« Reply #37 on: July 17, 2011, 13:56 »

Seems to me that we need a colloquial thesaurus ie. a thesaurus that returns a result giving synonyms for common words as used in other countries, regions or cultures.   It appears that there are quite a few.  Some OK, some not so good.  Only had a brief look but one that appears to be quite useful is:

It returns a list of words that may match but it's also very funny in terms of descriptions of the word.  Look up "Ocean", "Football", "Cricket", and you'll see what I mean.  A very entertaining read. But I can foresee that if you use it for keywording you may be distracted from that busy task by the amusing descriptions. 


  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #38 on: July 17, 2011, 14:03 »
I think we should convert the CV to use the urban dictionary....

« Reply #39 on: July 18, 2011, 19:23 »
I have another question for buyers:

Are you using the istock dollarbin? How often do you look there? are there any other sites that have a Dollarbin?

I am wondering - what if the contributors had a personal dollarbin? The files that get deleted from the main search because they had no sales in 3 or 5 years, instead of sending them off to another stock site, or maybe in addition to that - why not offer a dollarbin for every contributors? (Of course only if they want, it should be possible to deactivate it)

A general Dollarbin would probably become too large if say, every year 10% of the collection (non sellers) are moved there. But if the dollarbins are spread over all the contributors and there is no central search function, it cannot become a threat to the main collection.

It would however, encourage the buyers to check out the individual profile pages a little more and encourage them to bookmark the individual artist. This again helps to interconnect the buyer/artist community.

If you have a main collection with 20 million images, why not have 2 million files (10%) spread out all over the site in personal dollarbins?

of course you can add additional restrictions (not more than 10% of the portfolio), what doesnt sell there in 12 months gets deleted etc...

Personal Dollarbins - is that an interesting idea?
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 19:25 by cobalt »

« Reply #40 on: July 20, 2011, 10:04 »
Interesting article on CNN today:

"Looking back on his decade as Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt said the company should have focused more on connecting people -- a hole that allowed the emergence of rival internet giant Facebook.

Fundamentally, what Facebook has done is built a way to figure out who people are. That system is missing in the internet as a whole. Google should have worked on this earlier," Schmidt, now the executive chairman of Google, said in an interview with CNN."

I guess this ties in with ideas floated above - you can have as many images and contributors as you want if you connect them well.


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