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Author Topic: Is what you are currently doing working?  (Read 12417 times)

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« on: October 03, 2017, 16:46 »
+1
Are you happy with the current direction of the industry?  What needs to change?  Where do you see the future?  What do you consider our industries biggest problems? 

Many of you know who I am, and what I am doing.  I have posted here before about what I do to try and solve some of the industries problems.  I am working on perfecting a better, smarter, learning, and predictive image search.  I have also opened my past agencies enterprise-level sales and delivery platform to photographers, giving 100% of the license fee they set, for a flat fee to run the system.

I wanted to comment on some trends am following, many resulting in my current direction, I hope to receive your constructive feedback, and see what we can do together to make things better for all of us. 

Content creation in our industry is growing exponentially.  Now that just about everyone with a camera in his or her pocket, anyone can create content for our industry.  Yes, I know it takes more than a smart camera to take great photos. However, the barriers to entry into the stock photo market space continue to decline.  Image quality continues to improve, and finding the best (most relevant) images to represent a company, product, brand or idea will continue to vex image buyers.  Manual image curation is not enough, and cannot possibly predict the future market need.  I built my first stock photo agency Corner House Stock Photo on the inadequacies of stock photo agency curation.  I took on released houses and home lifestyle images that other photo agencies turned away; we filled a niche others did not see.  I am an architecture shooter and had direct insight into what real buyers in the space wanted and were looking for, which the other agencies did not see. 

With this influx of new stock photo content, oversupply and competition, agencies have even less of an incentive to take on additional out of scope images that may or may not sell.  It appears that the new" plan or trend, is to allow buyers to request content on demand.  On-demand content is nothing new, look up the history of On Request Images and others following the same model like ImageBrief.  Yes, we can hear it straight from the horse's mouth what buyers are "looking for" when they put out a request or brief.  However shooting such content with a single consumer's particular product or service in mind, on speck is risky business for the image creator, locking up their time on creating images for one buyer.  Yes, the request can be expanded upon and shot for other subjects. The short version - In my opinion retrying old failed business models, is NOT a good "new" plan for the future.

My focus has been on a smarter, learning and predictive image search.  A search that is all-inclusive, and lets the image buyer decide what they want to see and we simply show them more of what they want and less of what they don't.  The search engine model works, we use it every day for other industries, why not stock photos?   It is time to embrace the technology that is pushing our industry into the future.  Use machine learning and artificial intelligence to help buyers find images and help photographers get images licensed.  I am the first to say that my system is not perfect, we have had our fair share of growing pains, but it is getting better, faster and smarter every day.  With enough data, we can predict cycles and trends sharing this information with image creators.  It all depends on how you use the massive amount of data collected and available.  I am actively working on this. 

Let me know where you see the future.  Is this a problem that can or needs to be solved?  How?  Do you think search and data derived from search can help us or are we better off in our current path guessing and shooting in the dark? I am open to your constructive thoughts.


« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2017, 00:24 »
+2
I agree I think the next step forward is a really smart search engine if anyone can deliver that then they will have a serious advantage

« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2017, 01:36 »
+3
The problem is that most people here would define a "smart search engine" as an engine that finds THEIR clips.

« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2017, 01:43 »
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The problem is that most people here would define a "smart search engine" as an engine that finds THEIR clips.
Indeed! It needs a lot of input from buyers to be meaningful and not what the agencies think is best for them. Then my masterworks would obviously naturally find their way to the top ;-).

« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2017, 01:58 »
+5
Sorry. No idea what you do....beyond this email....

dpimborough

« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2017, 03:28 »
+4
"Content creation in our industry is growing exponentially.  Now that just about everyone with a camera in his or her pocket, anyone can create content for our industry. "

No

The content being submitted is rubbish on the whole, poor quality, poorly keyworded.

Most of the contributions should never be accepted in the first place.

What this industry needs is better quality control.

« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2017, 03:44 »
0
"Content creation in our industry is growing exponentially.  Now that just about everyone with a camera in his or her pocket, anyone can create content for our industry. "

No

The content being submitted is rubbish on the whole, poor quality, poorly keyworded.

Most of the contributions should never be accepted in the first place.

What this industry needs is better quality control.
Better quality control costs that's why if a search engine can do it it would be a huge financial edge. The agencies aren't going to pay for QC unless customers pay a premium which is why the more exclusive agencies have a niche.

« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2017, 10:32 »
+1
Better quality control costs that's why if a search engine can do it it would be a huge financial edge. The agencies aren't going to pay for QC unless customers pay a premium which is why the more exclusive agencies have a niche.

Shutterstock is neither exclusive or niche,  yet they have no problem in attracting premium buyers.  Their enterprise customers contribute to almost  a third of Shutterstock's turnover, a colossal amount, and if they cannot find what they want the enterprise team will find it for them even delving down to where our images are found, that's where your SODs come from.  I guess that the more difficult it was to search on Shutterstock the easier it was to convert buyers to their enterprise platform, and hence the situation we have now.

If quality contol was counter productive for Shutterstock there will surely come a point when that ceases to be the case and a new method of searching will be required.  Searches dependant on keywords, tittles and descriptions alone will never be good enough on a site like Shutterstock, too much corupted data, but if you combine it with image recognition you can eliminate many inappropriately keyworded images in the search.  Eventually, image recognition will become the dominant factor in searches and keywords will become secondary.





ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2017, 10:40 »
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I agree I think the next step forward is a really smart search engine if anyone can deliver that then they will have a serious advantage
Provided that in parallel they can manage to stop spam from contributors.


« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2017, 16:22 »
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A review as we have evolved over the years.  Yes, I have been working on this for many years, because I believe this is the direction the industry is heading.  My goal is still the same. 

We are the search engine and marketplace for the stock photo industry with a focus on smart image search and discovery. 

Including every stock photo in the industry within our search results is our goal.  PicturEngine is not another agency or aggregator and does not take any commissions.  I am a photographer and agency owner myself (picturesque.com and cornerhousestock.com).  After running my other stock photo agencies for many years, I realized our industry has evolved and does not need another stock photo agency or new pricing model.  We need a better, smarter way to search for images.

PicturEngine operates on the traditional search engine model with organic and paid search results.  The best, most liked, viewed and clicked on images float to the top of the search results, while at the same time, our smart machine learning search allows many images not previously or regularly seen by art buyers to be discovered.  We use the art buyer's own searching patterns and buying habits to suggest unique, never before seen images helping buyers find that perfect image for their needs.  It is not always about the most popular or most "used" image. 

PicturEngine does not compare image prices.  It is our goal to connect image buyers as close to the source creator (or agency that pays the creator directly) as possible, thus reducing the unnecessary intermediaries that exist in our industry.  In theory, this will give the creator more money to keep shooting and save the buyer some time searching and money too.  Although, some photographers have the same image listed for $1 at agencies and list on our platform for $25, so it is not perfect.  Providing creators with good usable data helps them make informed decisions.

Agencies over 1 million images make up our organic content, (this gives image buyers a compelling reason to come to search us first) smaller agencies and individual creators have the option pay a small advertising fee (or use our platform) to be suggested or injected into our smart search.  Think of it like shuffling a deck of cards, organic on the one hand and paid on the other; our suggestion engine decides the placement and ranking of images for that particular buyer's needs. 

Individual creators already using a licensing platform can utilize our Advertising Only system.  Several existing platforms like PhotoShelter and PhotoDeck are fully automated; we push images into the database immediately upon signup to PicutrEngine.  Other platforms use a CSV or XML upload of a "data file" (no need to upload images directly for Advertising Only) until we bring these other platforms into the automated system.  It does take a couple of weeks for PicturEngine to create a visual fingerprint and for images to begin gaining a proper ranking in our system.  We also remove exact duplicates from agencies when creators use our system.  We look at the whole picture, all of its data and visual content for ranking (along with what image buyers think of the image per the terms searched), not just the existing attached captions and keywords.  The industry has a keywording problem that we are actively addressing with our smart search.

PicturEngine has a direct to seller marketplace called the Photographer Platform.  We make image licensing directly from image creators simple for photographers on our platform.  Photographers maintain 100% control of their images, set their pricing and keep 100% of the image license fees.  We have changed the platform system pricing recently offering tiers as well as our original unlimited plan.

Last but certainly not least, we provide many other valuable services such as image keywording, industry pricing analysis, analytics, and performance metrics.  We will be providing data and analytics detailing how your images are performing and how to edit better, shoot, organize, caption, and keyword your images for better performance within our system and yours.  We want to provide the data on where the industry has been, where it is today and where it is going. 

PicturEngine is continuing to evolve.  I want us to be the best image search and discovery engine possible.  Helping this industry that I have been a part of for over 20 years.  The industry cannot continue its current course; something has to change.  I have asked for help during our beta and sincerely appreciate all of those that helped us develop into what we are today.  Data science is an expensive, long and tedious process and involves a lot of testing.  We are not perfect, that is why I continue to ask how we can be better.  If you have a suggestion or complaint, bring it to me, personally, and I will address it.  My goal is like yours to make this industry sustainable in the future.

Feel free to ask questions; we are always here to help.  Also please see our FAQs for any questions we have answered.
PicturEngine
http://www.picturengine.com/
Pricing http://www.picturengine.com/#pricing-plans
FAQs http://support.picturengine.com/

Again, my goal in posting here is to get your feedback on what is working for you.  What is not working and where you see the future of our industry.  I am here to try and help.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 20:42 by PicturEngine-JustinB »

« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2017, 16:49 »
+2
I agree I think the next step forward is a really smart search engine if anyone can deliver that then they will have a serious advantage
Provided that in parallel they can manage to stop spam from contributors.
Not so much stop as render it counter  productive by burying content inappropriately described.

« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2017, 16:53 »
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Better quality control costs that's why if a search engine can do it it would be a huge financial edge. The agencies aren't going to pay for QC unless customers pay a premium which is why the more exclusive agencies have a niche.

Shutterstock is neither exclusive or niche,  yet they have no problem in attracting premium buyers.  Their enterprise customers contribute to almost  a third of Shutterstock's turnover, a colossal amount, and if they cannot find what they want the enterprise team will find it for them even delving down to where our images are found, that's where your SODs come from.  I guess that the more difficult it was to search on Shutterstock the easier it was to convert buyers to their enterprise platform, and hence the situation we have now.


Quite, so customers are also paying a premium via the enterprise team who are in effect undertaking post acceptance QC or a filter. If the search engine is clever enough to reduce/eliminate that need then thats a big opportunity.

« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2017, 17:39 »
+5
but content can also rise by being paid for, thereby bypassing the very thing you are trying to promote - the best images in front of buyers.

namussi

« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2017, 20:29 »
+6
PicturEngine-JustinB

Your posts are far too long. And the important bits are buried a long way down in the text.


« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 20:41 by namussi »

namussi

« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2017, 01:47 »
0
PicturEngine-JustinB

Your posts are far too long. And the important bits are buried a long way down in the text.

My tone seemed a bit hostile there. Apologies. Wasn't meant to.

« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2017, 02:03 »
+4
The proof is in the eating of pudding though......if I search "aardvark" I get lots of pics of birds and other random animals......


« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2017, 02:13 »
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The proof is in the eating of pudding though......if I search "aardvark" I get lots of pics of birds and other random animals......

Yes, the industry has a keywording problem. And I don't want to find this image when I search for "tiger cat", which is neither a cat nor a tiger... It's a sand tiger shark / grey nurse shark, and of course shouldn't have "cat" or "feline predator" in the tags. Also another reason why automated tagging systems are completely idiotic (I assume this is why "feline predator" is in there, because "tiger" was there.

And as soon as paid content is included, well, that's pretty obvious... Reviewers not looking at keywords is the problem with unwanted results.

A true smart engine would require ACTUAL people going through thousands and thousands of searches and removing unwanted results that are false matches. That would be a capping system I could get behind.  :D
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 02:28 by increasingdifficulty »

« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2017, 02:20 »
+1
The proof is in the eating of pudding though......if I search "aardvark" I get lots of pics of birds and other random animals......

Yes, the industry has a keywording problem. And I don't want to find this image when I search for "tiger cat", which is neither a cat or a tiger for that matter... It's a sand tiger shark / grey nurse shark, and of course shouldn't have "cat" or "feline predator" in the tags. And as soon as paid content is included, well, that's pretty obvious... Reviewers not looking at keywords is the problem with unwanted results.

A true smart engine would require ACTUAL people going through thousands and thousands of searches and removing unwanted results that are false matches. That would be a capping system I could get behind.  :D
The dream is something that achieves this without humans....whether thats a practical possibility this side of the launch of the SS Enterprise I'm not knowledgable enough to judge

« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2017, 02:22 »
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The dream is something that achieves this without humans....whether thats a practical possibility this side of the launch of the SS Enterprise I'm not knowledgable enough to judge

Yes, maybe in a 100 years.

« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2017, 03:06 »
+3
As a video contributor AND a production company owner - I can see both sides. In the world of video we find ourselves searching for a specific subject in all the agencies with poor results.
A search for "Business woman" yields 222,817 results on Shutterstock, while looking for a hot, relevant issue like "Islamic terror" gives you just over 1,500 clips, many of them irrelevant, and 70% editorial.
What I see as the challenge is finding these places where demand is high and supply is low (in the video market these places still exist I believe)
What I need as a contributor is a search tool that finds the gaps between high volume searches and low volume sales, or something like that...

« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2017, 04:16 »
+1
Thanks Jo Ann Snover. I have also looked at the site.
I remain confused.

This site is a bit like Google Images which also links to my pics (and then - hopefully - an Agency). (Lots of my pics are already on Picturengine through assorted agencies and I have paid nothing.)

But if I want to include my own website (set my own prices etc) then (unlike Google Images) it will only find me if I pay a fee. Is that right?

I have no idea what Sales and Delivery means if it is a search engine.

I'm sure I'm missing something here.....









niktol

« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2017, 07:51 »
0

This site is a bit like Google Images which also links to my pics (and then - hopefully - an Agency). (Lots of my pics are already on Picturengine through assorted agencies and I have paid nothing.)

But if I want to include my own website (set my own prices etc) then (unlike Google Images) it will only find me if I pay a fee. Is that right?



Pretty much. Except there is no way of knowing how many buyers - that is people who actually do open their wallet - are using this engine (unlike Google images), therefore its usefulness for artists remains questionable. So is its"smartness", because there is no info on which features are included in the learning algorithm. It could be either very basic or unnecessary complicated with a potential of throwing out lotsa potentially useful stuff.

I have no idea what Sales and Delivery means if it is a search engine.

I'm sure I'm missing something here.....


There is just too much irrelevant info in the posts. Perhaps it's something the poster did before but does not do anymore. The mentioned picturesque.com and cornerhousestock.com link to www.picturengine.com/.

« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2017, 13:54 »
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The proof is in the eating of pudding though......if I search "aardvark" I get lots of pics of birds and other random animals......

Yup, I just bought one of "Bottle of Juice" surrounded by coffees and teas.

« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2017, 15:53 »
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Sorry for the long responses.  I feel it is often useful to understand my thinking; this hopefully gives you a better understanding of what we are doing and why. 

I am creating a better, smarter, learning image search.
We are a search engine and marketplace. We have to pay for the smart search somehow, so we have broken it up into parts to benefit creators.   

Search engines traditionally operate on advertising revenue.  Take a look at Google, (NOT Google images) paid vs. organic search results.  (Google Images does not make Google money directly YET, but that is an entirely different and long topic.)

The current search engine PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising models do not work to benefit smaller creators in our industry.  These models reward those with the most money to advertise for paid search or the sites with the best SEO for organic traffic (usually the ones with the money to pay for PPC.)  On Google, advertising clicks for searches such as "Insurance" pay as much as $55 per click!  Individual contributors to the stock photo industry cannot support these high PPC prices and would not/do not use it.  In Google, and other search engines, Large agencies win every time, and the money to do PPC advertising eventually comes from your reduced commissions and further lowering prices to compete with other agencies.
   
We needed to be more creative in our approach to advertising and think about how we can benefit the creators.  Our smart, learning search and suggestion engine decides the location and placement of the search results (as stated previously,) like shuffling cards, but the deck is not random.  We let the buyers choose the arrangement of images using our internal ranking score.   

The goal is to help creators make better decisions, by giving them data, on how their images perform and providing insights into the industry, etc.. This is something agencies do not do.  I want to do this in real-time.

We try to push the keyword spammers in both organic and paid search down in the search results. We grade images per image buyers needs, and per keyword, image, collection and also added a visual component to check for relevancy of keywords and content.  It is my ultimate goal not to need keywords attached to images for image search but that is a couple of years off.   

NOTE to photographers: If you are searching for a random word that you "loaded" in your images keywords, (not in the dictionary or on the map) to specifically find your images, it is probably not searchable on PicturEngine, or if it is, it won't be for long.  Also if you are searching for your name, we also try to remove that from the searchable content (unless you are selling direct.)  We do this to prevent price comparisons. 

It has taken me and my team years designing and developing our search to listen to the cues of image buyers.  It is not perfect and is getting better with every search.  With that said, we have to be very selective in who we let train our engine, and we had to put qualifiers in place.  We discovered some undesirable results (the hard way) when everyone (not just image buyers) was allowed to teach our engine. 
Example: Images across many subjects began to rise prematurely due to clicking on images to see details or larger images.  i.e. we saw pictures of "waterfall" at the top of our search results start to have more girls with bikinis in them, not the desired result we were seeking.  We needed to adjust our ranking techniques; this is all a learning process.  We are solving the issues in search and ranking as they come, deciding who can and cannot train our engine. 

Yes, some undesirable results will show for a few searches, we try to catch them and adjust, in time they will be filtered and ranked lower where other more relevant images will rise to the top.

The photographer platform is a full-service platform (created and used by my agencies for many years) it includes everything you need for licensing photos (and more) plus the advertising component.
Photographers asked for it, so we provided it as an option.  The only thing the platform does not give is a front facing website to represent your shooting work.  Other platforms like PhotoShelter and PhotoDeck do an excellent job of making websites.  I did not want to focus on website customization and instead focus on a better image search. 

More on that here:
http://picturengine.desk.com/customer/en/portal/topics/187968-photographer-platform/articles
I am trying to keep my post here shorter.

Yes, your images are probably already in our organic search results if they are listed with an agency.  Using our paid Advertising or Platform replaces your images within our search results, and sends the buyer straight to your site or selling page where you make/keep more money. 

With enough support, we can further enable creators to continue to create. 
Tell me, are you happy with the current state of the industry?  If not, what can we change to make it better?

namussi

« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2017, 20:43 »
+1
Sorry for the long responses.  I feel it is often useful to understand my thinking; this hopefully gives you a better understanding of what we are doing and why. 


Long, general responses don't work well on forums. It's better to address individuals' specific points directly with a paragraph or two.

Focus on the benefits to us.

namussi

« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2017, 20:46 »
+1
And if you do still want to make long posts, break them a bit with bullet points and subheadings.


« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2017, 21:20 »
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And if you do still want to make long posts, break them a bit with bullet points and subheadings.

Haven't entirely read a single one.

« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2017, 00:41 »
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I can't quite work out if by paying contributors get higher placement and to me thats a fundamental contradiction. Too many similars in search returns. To my eyes no better than agency searches. Nice theory not seeing the benefits in the implementation.

« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2017, 00:59 »
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"Yes, your images are probably already in our organic search results if they are listed with an agency.  Using our paid Advertising or Platform replaces your images within our search results, and sends the buyer straight to your site or selling page where you make/keep more money."

ok - some useful info. Instead on an image appearing directing to SS it points to my site where in theory I can earn more.

So the '500 images' relates to - how many images are on my site? Or how many links I get? Or how many sales I get?

namussi

« Reply #30 on: October 06, 2017, 01:33 »
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It is our goal to connect image buyers as close to the source creator (or agency that pays the creator directly) as possible, thus reducing the unnecessary intermediaries that exist in our industry.

Your search engine is an extra intermediary.



namussi

« Reply #31 on: October 06, 2017, 01:37 »
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I can't quite work out if by paying contributors get higher placement and to me thats a fundamental contradiction. Too many similars in search returns. To my eyes no better than agency searches. Nice theory not seeing the benefits in the implementation.

It sounds like a contradiction. PicturEngine is supposed to remove the distortions caused by paying for placement. And yet it offers a pay-for-placement service. What's the point of paying for placement if the search engine automatically negates its effects?


Semmick Photo

« Reply #32 on: October 06, 2017, 01:49 »
+3
Sorry. No idea what you do....beyond this email....


This project goes back to 2012 (at least here)

http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/check-out-picturengine/
http://www.microstockgroup.com/selling-direct/picturengine-black-friday-cyber-monday-90-day-trial-offer!/
http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/picturengine-some-thoughts/
http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/picturengine-is-ready!


Paying 480 dollars for something that never delivered anything. That whole thing was a mess and still is. Horrible website even poorer search results. Lost all faith in the project and owners. Just my opinion.

« Reply #33 on: October 06, 2017, 02:17 »
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It is our goal to connect image buyers as close to the source creator (or agency that pays the creator directly) as possible, thus reducing the unnecessary intermediaries that exist in our industry.

Your search engine is an extra intermediary.
Although not so if you have your own web site and pay this outfit. (well I think those posts are so hard to follow ;-)) But the agencies are not really unnecessary....

derek

    This user is banned.
« Reply #34 on: October 06, 2017, 03:09 »
+1
All agencies need a complete clean-out!  they need to do away with at least 40-50% of all garbage just sitting there obstructing and creating search problems. Thats the general feedback of many art-buyers, directors of some ad-agencies. " impossible to find" is an expression very often heard today.

I will get flamed for this but SS and Getty need to disappear from the stock world! I know we earn money from them but their business-model is just terrible! collecting and accepting so much crap its just unbelievable.

I spoke to somebody who was working with the old Fotolia but left when Adobe took over and who confirmed really what I was afraid of from the very start of that marriage that Adobe should stick to programs/softwares and not meddle with trying to sell stock bigtime!

« Reply #35 on: October 06, 2017, 03:53 »
+1
All agencies need a complete clean-out!  they need to do away with at least 40-50% of all garbage just sitting there obstructing and creating search problems. Thats the general feedback of many art-buyers, directors of some ad-agencies. " impossible to find" is an expression very often heard today.

I will get flamed for this but SS and Getty need to disappear from the stock world! I know we earn money from them but their business-model is just terrible! collecting and accepting so much crap its just unbelievable.

I spoke to somebody who was working with the old Fotolia but left when Adobe took over and who confirmed really what I was afraid of from the very start of that marriage that Adobe should stick to programs/softwares and not meddle with trying to sell stock bigtime!
If SS business model is terrible what does that say about all the other agencies who are still miles behind? Whether we like it or not its still pretty successful for them....but I do agree its getting worse they really need to either cull their site as you describe which would be expensive and everyone would be squealing when their images are pulled or more likely improve their search technology to bring "better" images to the front.

« Reply #36 on: October 06, 2017, 03:55 »
+1
There was so much BS talked about PicturEngine years ago.  I initially fell for it but then I thought about it properly and realised it wasn't going to work.  The search looks a mess to me now but that's not a surprise.  I hope people didn't lose money on this.


derek

    This user is banned.
« Reply #37 on: October 06, 2017, 04:36 »
0
All agencies need a complete clean-out!  they need to do away with at least 40-50% of all garbage just sitting there obstructing and creating search problems. Thats the general feedback of many art-buyers, directors of some ad-agencies. " impossible to find" is an expression very often heard today.

I will get flamed for this but SS and Getty need to disappear from the stock world! I know we earn money from them but their business-model is just terrible! collecting and accepting so much crap its just unbelievable.

I spoke to somebody who was working with the old Fotolia but left when Adobe took over and who confirmed really what I was afraid of from the very start of that marriage that Adobe should stick to programs/softwares and not meddle with trying to sell stock bigtime!
If SS business model is terrible what does that say about all the other agencies who are still miles behind? Whether we like it or not its still pretty successful for them....but I do agree its getting worse they really need to either cull their site as you describe which would be expensive and everyone would be squealing when their images are pulled or more likely improve their search technology to bring "better" images to the front.

well in the case of SS it attracts just about everyone with a mobile phone churning out millions of hopefull budding photographers. Before they used to have some sort of a test I believe 7/10 had to be approved now its nothing. They just accept images for the sake of getting assets. No good! as you said yourself anything goes churning up  the search completely!

« Reply #38 on: October 06, 2017, 15:14 »
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I can't quite work out if by paying contributors get higher placement and to me thats a fundamental contradiction.
Just like Google and other search engines, the paid results get mixed into the organic search results. 
Unlike Google, our search is not PPC or PPV. Instead, our ranking engine decides the image order, what is best for the viewer searching.
So YES, paid search gets a better "chance" of being seen, BUT ONLY those images that match the users search criteria get seen.  We ONLY want to show users relevant search results. 

When Google started it was all organic content, no paid.  Then Google offered paid.  Now do a Google search and count the paid vs organic on the page. 
We are trying to learn from others, and improve upon their models to adapt to our industry.

Too many similars in search returns. To my eyes no better than agency searches. Nice theory not seeing the benefits in the implementation.
I agree and plan to stack visual similars from the same photographer and same shoot etc.  When it comes to stacking visual sims, we have to be careful. 
Some of the things we are working on are.
Figuring out what image attracts the most attention (within a photographers collection from a single shoot/subject) This is not a random decision.  It is a big responsibility to decide what image gets top placement in a group of similars from a photographer if a single shot is shown in the search results. 
We are gathering data now to perform this stacking task using our ranking system.  There are a lot of moving parts.  It is not a one size fits all solution.

« Reply #39 on: October 06, 2017, 15:27 »
+1
"I agree and plan to stack visual similars from the same photographer and same shoot etc." I think that could improve things greatly

« Reply #40 on: October 06, 2017, 15:33 »
0
So the '500 images' relates to - how many images are on my site? Or how many links I get? Or how many sales I get?

Number of Images.

Select the total number of images you want us to represent in the drop-down. http://www.picturengine.com/#pricing-plans
We are evolving, listening to the needs of creators and offer a new tiered pricing structure for our Photographer Platform.

« Reply #41 on: October 06, 2017, 15:43 »
0
It is our goal to connect image buyers as close to the source creator (or agency that pays the creator directly) as possible, thus reducing the unnecessary intermediaries that exist in our industry.

Your search engine is an extra intermediary.
Not sure what you mean.  We are closing the distance gap between buyer and creator. Do you consider other search engines like Google or Bing to be "extra intermediaries"?  Or are they needed to find what you are looking for, in a sea of information on the web?

My focus is on:
1. A better, smarter image search. (we are working on that)
2. Helping image creators make/keep more money.


« Reply #43 on: October 08, 2017, 01:41 »
+3
JustinB, how can you say "I am working toward a solution for our collective future" while at the same time I see images from sites like DepositPhotos are high up in your search?  Perhaps  lucky for us that Picturengine doesn't appear to be much use for buyers.  I think it ruins your credibility, you can't claim to be trying to help us while helping sites that make it unsustainable.

Sites like Alamy and Pond5 keep the industry sustainable for me.  There's others that pay 50% but they need more contributors and buyers to back them.  PicturEngine promotes sites that pay us very little and makes the industry more unsustainable.

I do think there will be a better way to sell image licenses in the future.  Blockchain technology looks interesting.  I think we will have a very low fee option one day without having to pay middlemen.  Until then, sites that pay 50% will do for me.

namussi

« Reply #44 on: October 09, 2017, 21:27 »
0
It is our goal to connect image buyers as close to the source creator (or agency that pays the creator directly) as possible, thus reducing the unnecessary intermediaries that exist in our industry.

Your search engine is an extra intermediary.
Not sure what you mean.  We are closing the distance gap between buyer and creator. Do you consider other search engines like Google or Bing to be "extra intermediaries"?  Or are they needed to find what you are looking for, in a sea of information on the web?

My focus is on:
1. A better, smarter image search. (we are working on that)
2. Helping image creators make/keep more money.

Yup. You're a more-focussed version of Google image search.

You are another intermediary for photographers who want to sell photos. At the moment, they can choose to sell through iStock, SS, etc. Or they can go it alone and set up their own websites to sell direct, and hope that search engines direct business their way, and that customers return to buy more.

Presumably you'd like more photographers to set up their own sites rather than selling through agencies.





namussi

« Reply #45 on: October 09, 2017, 21:30 »
+2
The most successful companies focus on what customers want, not suppliers.


« Reply #46 on: October 10, 2017, 01:27 »
0
It is our goal to connect image buyers as close to the source creator (or agency that pays the creator directly) as possible, thus reducing the unnecessary intermediaries that exist in our industry.

Your search engine is an extra intermediary.
Not sure what you mean.  We are closing the distance gap between buyer and creator. Do you consider other search engines like Google or Bing to be "extra intermediaries"?  Or are they needed to find what you are looking for, in a sea of information on the web?

My focus is on:
1. A better, smarter image search. (we are working on that)
2. Helping image creators make/keep more money.

Yup. You're a more-focussed version of Google image search.

You are another intermediary for photographers who want to sell photos. At the moment, they can choose to sell through iStock, SS, etc. Or they can go it alone and set up their own websites to sell direct, and hope that search engines direct business their way, and that customers return to buy more.

Presumably you'd like more photographers to set up their own sites rather than selling through agencies.

If I remember correctly, the big sites can be included for free while contributors with a smaller collection have to pay?  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  That never seemed like a good idea to me, would be interesting if it was the other way around.  The big sites have big advertising budgets, they need to spend it on something.  Individuals aren't able to compete with their spending power.  Some big sites have decided to not use PicturEngine anyway, making it much less useful than it could potentially be.


« Reply #47 on: October 10, 2017, 08:27 »
+1
Or just curate the larger catalogs with the talent and proper keywording you think works and would be useful to buyers. That would attract both a customer base on the buyer side that you could either make referrals off or give you some market to attract paying contributors. I've always thought the idea at PE was interesting, but I never saw the reason anybody would find my site there over Google enough for me to pay to play.

GraniteCove

« Reply #48 on: October 10, 2017, 09:05 »
+1
"Yes, your images are probably already in our organic search results if they are listed with an agency.  Using our paid Advertising or Platform replaces your images within our search results, and sends the buyer straight to your site or selling page where you make/keep more money."

I think the project is intriguing on a number of levels but after looking at your pricing plans I am confused by your business model. As mentioned in a previous reply, offering lower rates to agencies than to individuals does seem to contradict one of your expressed goals. The real confusion for me though is in your advertising only packages. For instance, let's say that I as an individual wanted to leverage your advertising to drive sales to a specific stock site that offered higher commissions or to increase my ranking there, how does your algorithm handle conflicts between two or more paying advertisers? In other words, if your platform gains popularity to the point where it disrupts agency sales what is stopping agencies from advertising alongside contributors. Since the majority of us contribute to multiple agencies how exactly would that work? Furthermore, how would/does it handle conflicts between paying contributors for similar searches? At the moment it looks as though your site only returns one page of results for any of the search terms I input, however what happens when that expands to ten, or a hundred, or a thousand? I know if I am paying the same amount for exposure as my competitors then I don't want page 20 or even page 2. I want number 1 page 1. So then what? Sort by popularity, relevance, new? I get that for free already. Maybe by rotation then? I suspect I get that for free already too, so the only thing I can see if the platform takes off is a pay for placement auction scheme similar to Google adwords. Is that correct?

Forgive my skepticism but I like to know what I am actually getting before I spend my money. By the way, are you aware your splash page explicitly states "PicturEngine features unbiased searches"? You should probably remove that.

« Reply #49 on: October 10, 2017, 10:05 »
+1
When you think about it an "unbiased" search is a logical impossibility.

« Reply #50 on: October 10, 2017, 13:00 »
0
JustinB, how can you say "I am working toward a solution for our collective future" while at the same time I see images from sites like DepositPhotos are high up in your search?  Perhaps  lucky for us that Picturengine doesn't appear to be much use for buyers.  I think it ruins your credibility, you can't claim to be trying to help us while helping sites that make it unsustainable.


PicturEngine currently searches over 850,000,000 organic images.  We will cover the entire industry, giving image buyers a comprehensive selection of stock photos available for license.  Some images rank higher than others in our search results; this will change as more buyers train the system to what they like seeing in their individual search results.  I have discussed several times how we list images in our search results, Organic vs. Paid.

Do you stop using the searches from Google or Bing (or other search engines) because they show you a particular website or search result you dont like?  They probably provide that search result because of your past searching habits.  Click on more images that you DO like.

Sites like Alamy and Pond5 keep the industry sustainable for me.  There's others that pay 50% but they need more contributors and buyers to back them.  PicturEngine promotes sites that pay us very little and makes the industry more unsustainable.


I believe stock photo agencies should pay fair commissions to creators.  My agencies Picturesque and Corner House Stock Photo paid 50%, and now photographers receive 100% using the PicturEngine platform.

I do think there will be a better way to sell image licenses in the future.  Blockchain technology looks interesting.  I think we will have a very low fee option one day without having to pay middlemen.  Until then, sites that pay 50% will do for me.


Blockchain does look interesting, however by itself it is merely a ledger of transactions written to a permanent block.  Cryptocurrencies that use blockchain for transactions such as Bitcoin do have transaction fees.  This is how the distributed blockchain pays for itself (and pays the miners that make the operations possible).  These fees are based on many variables and often have long delays coupled with currency fluctuations. In my opinion too risky for now.
http://mashable.com/2017/08/28/bitcoin-transaction-fees/

The PicturEngine Platform currently uses PayPal (set fees we can predict) we can switch (or add) any widely used transaction method in the future.  It is important to me that PicturEngine does NOT touch your transaction/money; it passes straight from buyer to seller instantly when an image is licensed.

GraniteCove

« Reply #51 on: October 10, 2017, 17:41 »
+2
The concept makes me think of Fotosearch with a payramp for individuals. Obviously Im skeptical, partly because the OP has yet to answer any of my questions, but also because I m fully aware of the kind of resources it would take to establish a truly credible and competitive alternative to the big agencies. But his post did get me thinking about a strictly pay per play agency model and whether or not I would even consider contributing to such a beast.

My initial thought was absolutely not. Why would I? But then the wheels started turning and Im beginning to see that maybe some kind of pay to play model might not be such a bad idea after all. A more or less collective agency something along the lines of Stocksy (but without the entrance barriers) where a nominal PER IMAGE upload fee could potentially provide considerable seed and ongoing marketing capital for the good of all. The per image fee would also in my opinion force each of us to edit more carefully and upload only the best of our best images, eliminate needless similars, and (I know Im going to get flak for this) in short order winnow out the serious contributors from the chaf.  In essence creating a high quality, self curating library with real potential for commercial traction and buyer acceptance. Like Stocksy too, image exclusivity would be mandatory but not contributor exclusivity; leaving contributors free to continue uploading their lesser images elsewhere.

As a contributor the trade off for my up-front risk would need to more than offset the cost of contributing, so one of the things I would need to see would be a no subscriptions model to start coupled with a prudent  70/30 or even a 60/40 split in my favor.  Whenever I see 100% for you the contributor, I just know its going to fail. Again, like the Stocksy model  I personally dont believe pricing needs to be as low as the big agencies to be competitive but on the other hand not quite as high as theirs either. Somewhere mid-point would still be highly competitive considering the market a site like this would be targeting. I would also need rock solid assurances that my upload fee would go directly toward ongoing marketing of the site. A tall order I know, and I dont see this sort of thing coming any time soon necessarily, but one thing is for sure - something needs to change because the current model doesnt seem sustainable for much longer. Not for contributors like me anyway.

« Reply #52 on: October 10, 2017, 23:18 »
0
"Yes, your images are probably already in our organic search results if they are listed with an agency.  Using our paid Advertising or Platform replaces your images within our search results, and sends the buyer straight to your site or selling page where you make/keep more money."

I think the project is intriguing on a number of levels but after looking at your pricing plans I am confused by your business model. As mentioned in a previous reply, offering lower rates to agencies than to individuals does seem to contradict one of your expressed goals. The real confusion for me though is in your advertising only packages. For instance, let's say that I as an individual wanted to leverage your advertising to drive sales to a specific stock site that offered higher commissions or to increase my ranking there, how does your algorithm handle conflicts between two or more paying advertisers? In other words, if your platform gains popularity to the point where it disrupts agency sales what is stopping agencies from advertising alongside contributors. Since the majority of us contribute to multiple agencies how exactly would that work? Furthermore, how would/does it handle conflicts between paying contributors for similar searches?


First, see our public FAQs
http://picturengine.desk.com/customer/en/portal/articles/524043-am-i-competing-with-my-agencies-
http://picturengine.desk.com/customer/en/portal/articles/478867-does-picturengine-compare-prices-

When an image is ingested into PicturEngine, we start with a deduping process (removing or ranking the exact duplicate image.)  Our industry is full of duplication BOTH from agencies and photographers syndicating (sending the same image to multiple sources.) It is important that we do not allow agencies to compete on price, so we only want to show the image once in our search results. 
We use a scale from 0-10.  With "0" represented as licensing directly from the creator/copyright holder, either on our PicturEngine Platform or Advertising Only (on the photographers' sales and delivery platform.) When an image is marked as direct to the creator "0" we default and only show this image to the buyers. If an agency is paying for advertising, the lowest they can get is a "1" on this scale.  We use a formula to try and determine the "base" agency for a particular image the lower number on the scale gets shown to the buyer.  We had to come up with a system because we found the same image at several agencies and also direct from the creator.  I don't want to make a super long post, let me know if you need further explanation, (there are many calculations that go into deciding the 1-10 ranking of agencies on a per image basis.)

At the moment it looks as though your site only returns one page of results for any of the search terms I input, however what happens when that expands to ten, or a hundred, or a thousand? I know if I am paying the same amount for exposure as my competitors then I don't want page 20 or even page 2. I want number 1 page 1. So then what? Sort by popularity, relevance, new? I get that for free already. Maybe by rotation then? I suspect I get that for free already too, so the only thing I can see if the platform takes off is a pay for placement auction scheme similar to Google adwords. Is that correct?

Forgive my skepticism but I like to know what I am actually getting before I spend my money. By the way, are you aware your splash page explicitly states "PicturEngine features unbiased searches"? You should probably remove that.


The search results are listed as an infinite scroll. When you search for a particular term, you receive a set of results; we load about 100 images at a time.  As you (the buyer searching) act on the search results, click on images, add images to a lightbox, etc. our system is listening and learning what you like to see in your search results and can then suggest images in the next load of results as you scroll.  Think of our search as a big funnel starting wide at the top and narrowing as you act on the results and we learn what you like seeing.

The goal is a smart, learning image search where no one can pay to have higher results (no auction type mechanism, as that, won't benefit the creator or buyer) Instead we try and determine the best result for that person searching.  Giving a shuffled result of both organic and paid results giving the buyer the best search experience possible. 

On the flip side, we also want to give creators data as to how their images are performing, and what they can do to improve.  The good images (for that particular search/subject) should rise, and the not so good ones fall, let the buyers actions decide.

We are always interested in feedback that's why I started this thread.

« Reply #53 on: October 10, 2017, 23:40 »
0
The most successful companies focus on what customers want, not suppliers.
That is the plan.  Focus on a great image search.  We have received surveys and feedback from over 16,000 paying image buyers. 

We also listen to suggestions and ideas from photographers and agencies with what they want.  It is a balance.

I am doing this to solve the problems our industry is facing, adapt and adjust until we have a winning formula.  Thanks for your feedback and support.   

« Reply #54 on: October 11, 2017, 02:39 »
0
I'm still unimpressed by the results from the searches I did.  It took too long for the second page to load.  It did seem like there was only one page of results.  Then I had no idea how many pages there would be.  There were still less images than on single sites, like Alamy.  It was a bit quicker when I tried it just now, so maybe the speed varies through the day?

It would help if you put the total number of images found on the first page but then I suppose that makes buyers realise there isn't as much to look at as there are on some sites and your USP for them has gone?

GraniteCove

« Reply #55 on: October 11, 2017, 07:41 »
+2
Thank you for trying to answer my questions JustinB, , and trust me, I did read your FAQ's before I posted. The answers to my specific questions were not there (nor were they in your most recent post) so yes,  I do require further explanation.

My questions were not related to how the system handles non-conflicting queries, I understand how that works,  but rather how it reconciles searches from competing advertisers on your platform. Perhaps I was not clear enough so I will reframe the question. What happens when you have say 100 photographers with photographs of lets say a pizza. Let's also assume that they are all similarly keyworded which they would naturally be. Since all the photographers are paying  the same advertising rate to you how on earth does your system even begin to prioritize those images in the initial sort?

Another question was related to how your system would deal with a photographer who was not interested in selling directly necessarily, but rather leveraging your advertising platform to drive sales to a specific stock agency (something I think could be very useful). I understand how that would work in your organic vs paid scheme, but I don't quite get how that would work if the agency I wanted to direct sales to also advertised with you. Or to complicate things even further, multiple agencies with the same image. Who exactly gets priority and how does your system decide who gets dumped from the search? Either way, someone is not going to be happy.

Please go back and reread my first post.

« Reply #56 on: October 11, 2017, 23:46 »
0
It would help if you put the total number of images found on the first page but then I suppose that makes buyers realise there isn't as much to look at as there are on some sites and your USP for them has gone?

Providing a count of total images from a search that learns, adapts, grows and shrinks as you act upon it, was not practical.  The image results count (or totals) continuously change as you act, click, etc., the search results are not supposed to end until you find what it is you are looking for. 

As more users search, click, act and train our engine, smarter (better) it gets at inferring the meaning in words entered to search.  We are not there yet, but that's what we are striving to create. 


« Reply #57 on: October 12, 2017, 14:09 »
0
My questions were not related to how the system handles non-conflicting queries, I understand how that works,  but rather how it reconciles searches from competing advertisers on your platform. Perhaps I was not clear enough so I will reframe the question. What happens when you have say 100 photographers with photographs of lets say a pizza. Let's also assume that they are all similarly keyworded which they would naturally be. Since all the photographers are paying  the same advertising rate to you how on earth does your system even begin to prioritize those images in the initial sort?

I understand now; you want to know the mechanics of ranking very similar images for a particular keyword, subject, all paying to be in the search results. For this hypothetical let us assume 100 Platform or Advertising Only photographers submit pictures of pizza, all of the images are similar but still have distinguishing factors or different lighting and all of the pizzas.  For ranking these, we look at many of facets to determine an images' rank and order.  Besides the obvious, what buyers like seeing and have clicked on in the past; color, focus, orientation, copy space, camera view, license type, also other keywords, descriptions, and categories, attached to that image.  We also take into account that photographers particular specialty and what else is in their collection submitted.  All of these facets are evaluated, and each is assigned a score.  This is a fraction of the list we use to evaluate an image.

It becomes a very hard problem to solve indeed when it gets to the point of 100 photographers with 100 cheese pizzas images, all very similar in all respects, all shot from above, with no other distinguishing factors or facets... after all else is exhausted for deciding an images' ranking, in this extream example (for now) we randomize.  That will likely change as we discover more facets to compare. 

Another question was related to how your system would deal with a photographer who was not interested in selling directly necessarily, but rather leveraging your advertising platform to drive sales to a specific stock agency (something I think could be very useful). I understand how that would work in your organic vs paid scheme, but I don't quite get how that would work if the agency I wanted to direct sales to also advertised with you. Or to complicate things even further, multiple agencies with the same image. Who exactly gets priority and how does your system decide who gets dumped from the search? Either way, someone is not going to be happy.

Please go back and reread my first post.

If the image belongs to a photographer licensing directly, they are automatically the default 0 position.  Ranking paid agencies on our scale of 1-10 (as described in my earlier post) is no easy task. We started by using first (oldest) upload date; this was to benefit early adopters to our Advertising Only for agencies. 

We developed this strategy of first come, first served, early on for simplicity in billing. Example: Agency A pays us to list 300,000 images.  Agency B signs up next and also has 300,000 images however 200,000 of this collection are the SAME exact images as Agency A, plus 100,000 unique images.  Agency B only gets billed for 100,000 images because they are unique.  So hopefully not too many feelings are hurt.  This benefits early adopters.  The way I see it, if an agency is paying for advertising in our search results, they are trying to get those images licensed to benefit themselves and those photographers they represent.  So they are working for the photographers' best interest and should be rewarded.
 
This can change in the future if photographers tell us an agency is not treating them fairly, not paying commissions on time, etc.  Photographer feedback is important to us. 

GraniteCove

« Reply #58 on: October 12, 2017, 18:33 »
0
I appreciate the answers JustinB. It clarifies things for me.

« Reply #59 on: October 16, 2017, 17:46 »
0
I think this is interesting and relevant to our conversation about the search engine business model we are having on this thread.  Over the years Google has added more paid advertising space and less organic to its search results pages. 

https://moz.com/blog/google-organic-clicks-shifting-to-paid

This practice is all too common in the world of search engines, and it teaches us that paid content will in the future be the only way to be found.  Organic site content that comes up will only be the most significant and specialized in that particular subject. 

This is precisely why we do not want to allow a bidding ranked system on PicturEngine for our paid results.  I want to let the image buyers choose what they want to see in their specific search results.  Why I decided to spend the resources on our suggestion engine and learning image search.  We want the best image for that buyer to come up in their results, not the users' that can pay the most.

The world is changing around us.  We need to be agile and adapt to that change.  Thank you all for your suggestions on how to make the industry more sustainable.  Please keep them coming.   


 

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