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Author Topic: Can iStock Turn Midstock Sales Around?  (Read 35020 times)

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« on: June 03, 2014, 12:55 »
+3
iStocks sales seem to have been declining over the last few quarters. About 75% of iStock sales are at Midstock prices totaling roughly $180 million in 2013. There are indications that customers and creators are increasingly dissatisfied. One big questions is whether the decline is due to a generally higher priced offering, poor customer service including a less than optimal performing website, or both.

A year ago Yuri Arcurs observed that a rapidly growing percentage of his images were being licensed through low priced subscription offerings. He decided that if the trend continued eventually he would no longer be able to justify continued production of quality people images.

To get higher prices for his work his solution was to go exclusive with iStock and get an average 30 to 40 times the subscription price for each image licensed. I wanted to know how that is working out.

Yuris Numbers

With his original Yuri_Arcurs collection Yuri hit 1.5 million career downloads on iStock sometime in the first half of 2013. He is still listed as having 1.5 million plus downloads which means that he has had something less than additional 100,000 downloads in the last more than one year. When he went exclusive he had about 18,000 images in his non-exclusive collection on iStock.

After going exclusive iStock created a separate Yuri collection. His 1,257 best selling images from the Yuri_Arcurs collection were moved to the Yuri collection. All of them have been downloaded from iStock more than 200 times and 294 of this group have more than 1,000 downloads each. Currently the Yuri collection has had between 54,000 and 55,000 downloads since it was established. It is not clear why there are two collections as all the images in both collections are exclusive.

In the past year Yuri has added a huge number of new images to his collections, many of them produced by photographers who were trained at his 2012 boot camp in Cape Town. Yuri wholly owns all of these images. Now he has 123,751 images on iStock: 45,826 in Yuri_Arcurs and 77,925 in the Yuri collection.

I estimate that in 2013 there were about 179 million microstock images licensed worldwide at the following average price points:
       Midstock             5,000,000            $35 to $50
 
       Microstock         44,000,000             $6 to $7
       Subscription     130,000,000              $1.25

I asked Yuri if the higher fees from the Vetta and Signature collections is making up for the lost subscription sales from Shutterstock and all other agencies he was dealing with prior to going exclusive.

Yuris Response

While not answering my question directly, Yuri provided some interesting insights on what he feels is the future of Midstock.

Having just spent 3 days at GI in New York and today in Seattle with the IT exes I believe that very interesting things are in the pipeline for IS. Did I have a say in the upcoming changes... Yes - for sure. That being said. The GI top exe dev guys are highly competent and more flexible and agile towards change that I would have imagined. We are working on a set of core site improvements that will dramatically improve user experience and ultimately sales. Only thing that I can say now: Give IS three months and see the changes for yourself.

Shutterstock might be in for a bit more competition than they expected, especially if GI has me project managing the develoment team and we utilize the two things GI has that nobody else has: 1. The best images in the world. 2. The best editors in the world. The best images displays that the world has ever seen is just around the corner. Watch this space!
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 13:02 by Pickerell »


« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2014, 13:37 »
+27
the two things GI has that nobody else has: 1. The best images in the world. 2. The best editors in the world.

Lol, ok.

« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 13:38 »
+11
I asked Yuri if the higher fees from the Vetta and Signature collections is making up for the lost subscription sales from Shutterstock and all other agencies he was dealing with prior to going exclusive.

Yuris Response

While not answering my question directly, Yuri provided some interesting insights on what he feels is the future of Midstock.

Having just spent 3 days at GI in New York and today in Seattle with the IT exes I believe that very interesting things are in the pipeline for IS. Did I have a say in the upcoming changes... Yes - for sure. That being said. The GI top exe dev guys are highly competent and more flexible and agile towards change that I would have imagined. We are working on a set of core site improvements that will dramatically improve user experience and ultimately sales. Only thing that I can say now: Give IS three months and see the changes for yourself.

Shutterstock might be in for a bit more competition than they expected, especially if GI has me project managing the develoment team and we utilize the two things GI has that nobody else has: 1. The best images in the world. 2. The best editors in the world. The best images displays that the world has ever seen is just around the corner. Watch this space!

Hmm. I'd say Yuri could probably have shortened his answer to "No". Interesting that he goes on to say SS "might be in for a bit more competition than they expected" which rather concedes that they haven't had much competition recently.

Why does he think that image buyers want "the best images in the world" (which he obviously thinks are his work) and are prepared to pay the vast premium for them? Personally I believe images that are easily 'good enough' for buyers' needs, at a much more reasonable price, are likely to be the choice of most. That's how 'microstock' started remember?

I won't be sitting on my hands in anticipation of a huge turnaround from the decline at IS. If it were ever to happen it would certainly take far longer than 3 months.

My own income from IS in May was barely more than half what it was in May 2013 ... about one third what it was in May 2012 ... and hardly more than one quarter what it was in May 2009. In contrast my income at SS has risen almost exactly to compensate for IS's decline. There's no way those customers are going to be running back to IS to buy Yuri's expensive images.


« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2014, 13:48 »
+3
Sounds like he didn't see the increase in income that he was expecting and now wants to be more personally involved in the development of the site.

Looking at the recent problems istock has in just showing the sales data for the new subs, sending out wrong newsletters etc...the basics for the technology don't seem to be there. istock and getty are not technology companies, which is probably why he is pointing out that the top IT people are much better than the results we see in the way istock works.

So he is pushing them to become more competitive, which is probably good for istock.

If his income had taken of and he was making a lot more money by being exclusive he would have told us already, instead of promising us good results in a few months.


« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2014, 13:49 »
+3
A triumph of hope over experience? Don't think so

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2014, 13:52 »
+8
I'm not on iStock anymore but it sounds like those of you who are may be in for more of those dreaded site changes and updates "for better sales performance" that always screw up the whole system.

Why would iStock think they can gain back the trust of those buyers they basically ran off as well as any of the contributors. These people must live in another world...lol

« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2014, 13:56 »
+1
Don't forget, there was a gameplan: http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/yuri-arcurs-first-public-statement/msg333117/#msg333117


Oh yes! Quite funny to read that now.

SS are probably preparing some gigantic slices of humble pie as we speak. They'll be useful in few months time when Yuri, single-handedly, fails to turn around the IS/Getty ship and he starts wondering what his options really are.

« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2014, 13:59 »
+6
Yuri makes his project management of iStock/Getty's IT sound pretty amazing.

Maybe he'd do many of us a huge service and prove his project management skills by getting the transfer of jpegs from iStock to Getty working properly for once.  They've been struggling away since 2010 with only limited and sporadic success.

If any teenager can cope with transfer jpgs from one site to another, I'm sure that Getty - the self proclaimed leader in image distribution - armed with Yuri over their shoulder, could get it sorted.

« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2014, 14:02 »
+9
Sounds like he didn't see the increase in income that he was expecting and now wants to be more personally involved in the development of the site.

Looking at the recent problems istock has in just showing the sales data for the new subs, sending out wrong newsletters etc...the basics for the technology don't seem to be there. istock and getty are not technology companies, which is probably why he is pointing out that the top IT people are much better than the results we see in the way istock works.

So he is pushing them to become more competitive, which is probably good for istock.

If his income had taken of and he was making a lot more money by being exclusive he would have told us already, instead of promising us good results in a few months.

Yuri must have been absolutely delighted to have deliberately abandoned the 'subscription model' less than a year ago, on the basis that it didn't work for his business ... only to find that IS have started their own!

« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2014, 14:04 »
+6
On October 12 I wrote:
Interesting factoid: "Yuri" is showing "greater than 25,000 sales" on 78,000 images since the new identity was created in April. I'm rather surprised to see that one of his top business images is selling in the 10cr-55cr price bracket.

Today that identity has "greater than 54,000 sales", which means that portfolio, which still has 78,000 images has achieved 19,000 sales in 37 weeks. Which is 513 sales per week = 26,704 sales per year, = approx. one sale for every three images over the course of a year.

So if you have 1,000 Yuri-quality images on iStock, you could expect to get about 350 sales a year, or a sale a day. Presumably a lot of them are priced at Vetta levels (I can't be bothered to try to estimate how many are and how many are not) but even so, the return on effort for a top exclusive doesn't look all that amazingly exciting to me.  Perhaps that is why they have to allow him to sell on loads of other agencies as well as being "exclusive" with them.

It suggests to me that all the exclusive's sales are struggling. It looks as if I will sell about one file in two from my non-exclusive portfolio on iStock this year - obviously at a much lower price point than Yuri's.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2014, 14:04 »
+2
Yuri must have been absolutely delighted to have deliberately abandoned the 'subscription model' less than a year ago, on the basis that it didn't work for his business ... only to find that IS have started their own!
But strangely, his 'special deal' didn't include getting his images removed from TS.  ::)

« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2014, 14:06 »
-4
the two things GI has that nobody else has: 1. The best images in the world. 2. The best editors in the world.

Lol, ok.

You sound sarcastic.

Maybe we should take this seriously, considering the giant strides IS+GI have made in the microstock business.........

« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2014, 14:08 »
+3
Yuri is used to real time sales data, smooth upload processes and websites that actually work without many interruptions. I am sure getting his data two months late and full of errors is just as frustrating for him as it is for all contributors.

So if he keeps breathing down their neck and pushes them to modernise the place he will be doing something useful for all artists and probably the customers as well.

But how embarrassing for Getty that they cant move forward and compete without him.

« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2014, 14:09 »
+5
Having just spent 3 days at GI in New York and today in Seattle with the IT exes I believe that very interesting things are in the pipeline for IS. Did I have a say in the upcoming changes... Yes - for sure.........

Shutterstock might be in for a bit more competition than they expected, especially if GI has me project managing the develoment team

Sounds as if he is becoming a GI employee as well as a faux-exclusive.  I wonder if the other sites will be happy to continue hosting the portfolio of someone managing another agency's site.

« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2014, 14:21 »
+3
Yuri is used to real time sales data, smooth upload processes and websites that actually work without many interruptions. I am sure getting his data two months late and full of errors is just as frustrating for him as it is for all contributors.

So if he keeps breathing down their neck and pushes them to modernise the place he will be doing something useful for all artists and probably the customers as well.

But how embarrassing for Getty that they cant move forward and compete without him.

I get the impression that Yuri's little visits to Getty HQ and Seattle was more of a crisis meeting than a cosy chat. My guess is the steady income of $1M per year, that he might reasonably have been expecting to earn from SS alone by now, is suddenly starting to look rather more attractive than his current projections. I wonder if his 'special deal' included a significant lock-in period?

« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2014, 14:25 »
+18
What else is Yuri going to say? He is the unofficial spokesperson for GI/IS now. He would never come out and say the inevitable...that Istock has simply alienated too many buyers and has a technology team that keeps inventing bugs, so "watch out shutterstock, I hope your servers can handle the added buyer traffic once Istock launches its new site 3 months from now."

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2014, 14:37 »
+6
I don't follow Yuri but is he seriousy on the other agencies as well as shown as exclusive on iStock? If he is that is in and of itself double standards and only more dishonesty with iStock....thank God I'm not there any more. I wouldn't trust anything they say.

« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2014, 14:50 »
0
I wonder how many of the folks who constantly bag on Yuri are still using his model releases, etc?

He is more proactive than most of us and we still find reason to criticize. At least he is trying to bring about positive change, for himself if not the rest of us. The micros need competition,  monopolies have never proven to be positive for anyone.

cuppacoffee

« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2014, 15:02 »
+1
I think that he is finally gone from DT - http://www.dreamstime.com/yuri_arcurs_info

« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2014, 15:05 »
+11
I wonder how many of the folks who constantly bag on Yuri are still using his model releases, etc?

He is more proactive than most of us and we still find reason to criticize. At least he is trying to bring about positive change, for himself if not the rest of us. The micros need competition,  monopolies have never proven to be positive for anyone.

Yuri is in this for Yuri. Not for us little people. Any changes to Istock will be for his own benefit because we know that the masses will never make more money there, whatever he does. Istock isn't going to take a 25 cent subscription and magically make it $25. Whatever they do, if anything will be fore the benefit of a small subset of people but you can be dang sure that Istock will keep 99% of their collection in the cheap seats or they will never compete with shutterstock. If they are successful at making a cleaner, functional site, great, but that alone isn't going to bring back lost buyers. The ONLY way to create more mid stock pricing is to create mid stock collections, like vetta. That's been done already. So by focusing on mid stock, they leave out what shutterstock does so well.

For me my criticism of him is his manufactured statement to watch out shutterstock. That's what a press secretary says.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 15:08 by Mantis »

« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2014, 15:20 »
+1
I wonder how many of the folks who constantly bag on Yuri are still using his model releases, etc?

He is more proactive than most of us and we still find reason to criticize. At least he is trying to bring about positive change, for himself if not the rest of us. The micros need competition,  monopolies have never proven to be positive for anyone.

Yuri is in this for Yuri. Not for us little people. Any changes to Istock will be for his own benefit because we know that the masses will never make more money there, whatever he does. Istock isn't going to take a 25 cent subscription and magically make it $25. Whatever they do, if anything will be fore the benefit of a small subset of people but you can be dang sure that Istock will keep 99% of their collection in the cheap seats or they will never compete with shutterstock.

If they are successful at making a cleaner, functional site, great, but that alone isn't going to bring back lost buyers. The ONLY way to create more mid stock pricing is to create mid stock collections, like vetta. That's been done already. So by focusing on mid stock, they leave out what shutterstock does so well.

For me my criticism of him is his manufactured statement to watch out shutterstock. That's what a press secretary says.

And the sites do this because we have allowed them to do so!

Yuri is one the few photographers here that has actually and consistently tried to talk to the sites regarding the challenges we face.  The rest of us just bend over and thank them for sticking it to us. We actually collectively praise sites who have not raised sub pricing in over 9 years!

« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2014, 15:27 »
+11
istock has a subs program that is paying out less to even the exclusives than the indies make on SS. And they pay out a much lower rate to the indies than SS.

What makes you think Yuri wasnt part of implementing that program as well? Or that he is driving for higher prices in any way?

Id say it makes sense to assume that Yuri was involved or consulted when they created their subs program, because he has so much experience with sub sites.

I am all for having many agencies to choose from, but sadly for indies with 15% royalty and extremly low 28 cent subs (that dont even count towards the credits) istock isnt the first place to favor is it?

« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 15:29 by cobalt »

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2014, 15:29 »
+6
I wonder how many of the folks who constantly bag on Yuri are still using his model releases, etc?

He is more proactive than most of us and we still find reason to criticize. At least he is trying to bring about positive change, for himself if not the rest of us. The micros need competition,  monopolies have never proven to be positive for anyone.

Yuri is in this for Yuri. Not for us little people. Any changes to Istock will be for his own benefit because we know that the masses will never make more money there, whatever he does. Istock isn't going to take a 25 cent subscription and magically make it $25. Whatever they do, if anything will be fore the benefit of a small subset of people but you can be dang sure that Istock will keep 99% of their collection in the cheap seats or they will never compete with shutterstock.

If they are successful at making a cleaner, functional site, great, but that alone isn't going to bring back lost buyers. The ONLY way to create more mid stock pricing is to create mid stock collections, like vetta. That's been done already. So by focusing on mid stock, they leave out what shutterstock does so well.

For me my criticism of him is his manufactured statement to watch out shutterstock. That's what a press secretary says.

And the sites do this because we have allowed them to do so!

Yuri is one the few photographers here that has actually and consistently tried to talk to the sites regarding the challenges we face.  The rest of us just bend over and thank them for sticking it to us. We actually collectively praise sites who have not raised sub pricing in over 9 years!

Like Mantis said, Yuri looks out for Yuri. Look at the Google/iStock deal and what happened to fellow photogrpahers that stood up to iStock. Look at Sean for example. Many people feel he went behind their back and made a deal with iStock for his own good. Have you seen any positive changes with iStock since he did that? Like I said before, I am no longer with iStock, but from reading these forums it is still up to the same ol same ol. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2014, 15:54 »
+19

Yuri is one the few photographers here that has actually and consistently tried to talk to the sites regarding the challenges we face.

I don't know if you have inside information on what Yuri has talked with the sites about, but I haven't seen any indication of any interest in the community of contributors as a whole or any actions on behalf of anyone other than himself and his business.

Which is fine. He doesn't owe anyone anything.

He comes here when he wants likes on his Facebook page, fans for his blog, etc. Otherwise you never hear squat from him beyond self promotion (which he is good at).

"Professionals deal with professionals" - he made his bed. Now he gets to lie in it.


 

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