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Topics - gclk

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1 / Image Exclusivity?
« on: March 25, 2013, 07:32 »
For me, image exclusivity could be the saviour of my relationship with iStock/Getty.  Due to their actions and policies, I currently feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The 'rock' being the hugely restrictive (on contributors, not on iStock) exclusive ASA, which (if followed honestly, and I do) requires contributors to place a very high level of trust in the company, at times that can be a major challenge.

But dropping exclusivity would put me in a 'hard place' where my content would be duplicated all over Getty's bottom priced sites, earning less than 15% royalties, and - with that being the case, and having a living to make - I'd be compelled to spread my work across a whole bunch of sites, all with different prices, royalty rates and levels of competence.

So as I see it just now, the viable alternative is to completely sever my relationship with iStock/Getty and get back control of my own work.  But obviously that would come with a total RF earnings drop, followed by a long period of building earnings back up.  Suppose there's also always the possibility that any of us could get "Locke'd", and have the decision made for us, who knows.

But IMO a better solution, which could work very well for iStock/Getty and for contributors, would be to offer image exclusivity.  It's been suggested a fair bit, especially recently, and I didn't miss the opportunity to mention it in the survey.  But it would be interesting to get views on it here.

Would indys consider removing files from all other sites to have them exclusive with iS/Getty, having them mirrored to Getty rather then TS etc, and at a better royalty rate?  And would exclusives go for it, or prefer to just stick with full artist exclusivity? 

I've not been checking my account or the forums much recently, but just logged into iS to find that I have a credit balance of 10, not sure why.

I remember years ago being given 10 credits for starting as an Audio contributor (I think), and that maybe there was also some promotion running with an old referral system, but that doesn't seem to explain it.

Don't think it's a 'modern' referral, as I'm set-up to get $20 for those, and despite having several sign-ups through my links, officially I have zero referrals anyway.

Anyone else seeing an odd credit balance?  Cheers

Now that EdStock's fast-growing portfolio has over 120,000 images (far larger than the Vetta and Agency collections combined), I'm starting to wonder if there's any point left in submitting new Editorial work to iStock.

The problem is that no matter the age of EdStock's files, they get sorted by the date they were uploaded to iStock, rather than the date they were taken.  That's unfortunately the exact opposite of what we were told when EdStock was introduced ('On a technical note, we will be dating these files so that our system recognizes their original creation date, and not the date they are uploaded to iStock. This is being done to ensure that these new files do not dominate our Best Match sort en masse.' -  The files may (sometimes) be properly dated with their original creating date, but it doesn't seem to help - that's not what is being recognised by the system, as its very easy to see when sorting results by 'File Age'.

So when a fresh dumping of hundreds or thousands of EdStock files with a certain keyword lands on the iStock collection, the fact that they were taken at different points over the last twelve years or more doesn't matter - they go to the front of the 'File Age' sorting, and at or near the front of the Best Match.  Good luck to people who uploaded images for any partular location/brand/subject before a consignment of EdStock content arrives.

Since August last year I've been doing my best to bring this to the attention of the fine people at iStock, but so far there seems to be absolutely zero interest.  No response to the sitemails, emails, support tickets or complaints raised on the subject, except to say that I should not mention it in iStock forum.  My guess is that if they do one day communicate about it, it'll be to say something along the lines of 'yeah well, best match will sort it out over time'.

But check out an editorial-only search for 'Volkswagen' which received an EdStock dumping last autumn.  Still there on the first page of results is a portrait of Bernd Pischetsrieder taken almost eleven years ago.  The photo was taken in 2001 when Mr Pischetsrieder was about to take over as chairman of VW.  He then left VW in 2006.  No problem with the image being among EdStock's portfolio, it's just a good example of a very old EdStock file, which is placed far above editorial images from other contributors, taken ten years later, in October 2011.

As new (well, mostly old) EdStock content arrives, all the recently arrived editorial content from everybody else gets pushed pages and pages back.  Sometimes if a file managed to sell well before the EdStock onslaught, best match might put it ahead of a new block of EdStock content, but the vast majority of files just get buried.

Try an Editorial-only search for any of these to see examples where everybody else's work gets displaced by slabs of EdStock content:
Los Angeles | Berlin | Volkswagen | Edinburgh | Rome | Government | France

Seems that if you do have Editorial content on iStock, you just have to keep your fingers crossed until the day when a huge batch of EdStock files will come along and take their place in front of yours.

/long-winded-rant :)

4 / Jonathan Klein video interview with the FT
« on: August 28, 2011, 13:55 »

He doesn't say anything unexpected - doesn't even specifically mention iStock, but thought people might be interested, especially in what he says towards the end about Getty's relationship with H&F.

ETA - can't get that link to work directly for some reason, but if you follow the link then enter 'Jonathan Klein' in the search box, the video plays OK.

5 / 'Edstock' now has over 15,000 files...
« on: August 24, 2011, 06:31 »
..putting that user in the top five of all contributors by number of files on the site.

Does anybody know if the promised work that was going to be done to bring Edstock's work closer to the standard required for everyone else on iStock was even started before this new gigantic ingestion?  Or was that just quietly dropped like so many other things?  Suppose we may as well forget about it if JJRD and his team would have to go though 15,000 files.  Maybe it'll be 30,000 files by this time next week.

And - in case you want a laugh - from the OP of the original thread about the Edstock ingestion: The content will be treated just like any other content on iStockphoto and is not being given any special treatment.

6 / August best match shift?
« on: August 09, 2011, 05:57 »
I try not to jump to conclusions about drops in downloads or best match shifts, but from half-way through 1st August onwards I've seen a noticeable drop in earnings that seems different from a 'summer slow-down'.  Sales for me have been erratic as usual recently, with some days being OK and others being a complete joke, but overall sales for last week dropped significantly.

I don't keep a note of file best match positions to keep track of changes, but there does seem to have been a change in the files that I'm selling.  Some strong sellers appear to have fallen off a cliff, and very noticeably I'm getting sales from old files that had between 1 and 10 sales in the past.

Anybody else finding something similar?

7 / You're the new Managing Director at iStock...
« on: August 05, 2011, 08:13 »
...what would your priorities be?

You're moving to Calgary.  Taking account of iStock's current position in the marketplace, and its context within the Getty group of companies, what changes would you put into action immediately, and what would your longer term aims and priorities be?  And why?

Just wondering if there's some rich functionality I'm missing out on... apart from maybe the occasional mass site-mail, has anybody found a use for 'Friends' (ex Creative Network).

Before the site refresh, it was good to be able to have a look through new uploads from people I know, but now that functionality is gone, is there any useful functionality there at all?

Can't say I spend much time hanging around in the 'Contributor Lounge' either.

9 / First time downloads at weekends
« on: July 10, 2011, 09:47 »
[disclaimer - I'm very willing to accept this may just be a coincidence!]

Just wondering, has anybody else seen a trend at weekends, with a higher than usual proportion of downloads being first time sales?  I've not properly gone through my stats or anything, but it does seem that although I get way fewer downloads at weekends, of the sales I do get, a much higher ratio are first ever downloads for a file.

Anyone else seeing the same?

10 much do you reckon commissions have gone up by?

In Kelly's note on the iStock forums ( to correct the recent CNET article, he said that 'The fraction of a percent was definitely about the total change in royalties paid out, not the number of people it affected'.  The fraction given in the article was 0.1% (though looks like it's now been edited out of the article).  Presumably the change was downwards, but I don't think that was actually specified.

Given that since September...
- Non-exclusive royalties dropped from 20% to 15-20%
- Royalty rates for many exclusive contributors dropped down one or more levels.  Some contributors saw their royalty percentages go up.
- Vetta royalties dropped for all participating contributors, from 25-40% to 22-30%, while the Vetta price went up significantly.
- Agency sales were introduced at the same royalty level as Vetta but at a significantly higher price.
- There was an influx of external Agency content.  Don't know what iStock's commission for those is, but it's thought by many to be 80%.
- 100% royalty day was dropped
- The extra 10% royalty on Extended Licenses for exclusives was dropped
- Exclusive+ prices have gone up significanly, and the proportion of E+ files has gone up.
- Minimum subscription payouts went down significantly

Those are off the top of my head, I probably missed out a few important ones there.

Obviously we'll never know, but given that royalties paid out have changed by 0.1%, how much would you guesstimate that iStock's takings increased by? :)

Firstly, sadly it seems this is a taboo subject for discussion on iStock.  This thread - "Is it new Best Match or my wrong Keywording?" in the help forum was locked, and a follow-up thread was not only locked, but also deleted from the site.

The concern is that files with a larger number of keywords are getting unusually poor placing in best match searches.  If this is true it would mean that official iStock guidance on keywords is no longer relevant (no pun intended  ;)).  We've been actively encouraged to provide lots of of useful information in our keywords, since terms like 'photography', 'horizontal', 'nobody', 'indoors' or whatever can improve search terms for buyers.  And the official position was that best match placing was not disadvantaged by having a high number of relevant keywords.

I'm not saying that I'm sure that lots of keywords = poor best match position (if an image picks up some early downloads it's often not the case), but it is looking like maybe it's a factor, whether on purpose or by mistake.

Certainly I've found that a lot of my own uploads over the past 6 months or so can be found right at the back of searches.  I usually invest a fair bit of time in tagging files with as many relevant, potentially useful keywords as possible.

These results below could have moved around for other reasons - another best match shift or whatever.  Also, these aren't brand new files, so it's not possible to know how things would have gone if they'd only had a few keywords from the start.

Anyway, for a couple of recent-ish files of mine that were at the back of tens of thousands of results, this is what happened...

Macro raspberry photo - uploaded 3rd February 2011

Best match position searching for 'raspberry' yesterday was approx #12980 (page 65 of 67, 200 results per page)

Removed keywords:
berry fruit, colour, food, macro, photography, ripe, selective focus, simple, sweet food, small, healthy eating, local produce, many, nobody, vibrant colour, saturated colour, ...

Keywords now:
raspberry, close-up, freshness, red, fruit, berry

Best match position now is approx #9705 (page 49 of 67)

Cherry photo - in the exclusive+ collection - uploaded 22nd November 2010

Best match position searching for 'cherry' yesterday was roughly #18035 (near the bottom of page 92 of 92, 200 results per page)

Removed keywords:
berry fruit, close-up, colour, directly above, food, fruit, gingham, group of objects, nobody, photography, raw, red, ripe, saturated colour, bunch, clean, healthy eating, indoors, local produce, macro, pattern, simple, stalk, summer, sweet food, three objects, white, wet, droplet, fabric, cotton, seasonal food, ...

Keywords now:
cherry, traditional, freshness, fruit, tablecloth

Best match position now is approx #11070 (page 55 of 91)

And an example with fewer results:

Fern koru uploaded 17th March 2011

Best match postion searching for 'Koru' was #65 out of 67 files

Removed keywords:
flora, beginnings, brown, close-up, fragile, green, growth, life cycle, origins, photography, small, spiral, vertical, bracken, circle, curled up, foliage, forest, frond, nobody, outdoors, shape, softness, tree fern, detail, radial symmetry, countryside, pure, selective focus, spring

Keywords now:
fern, freshness, new zealand, nature, koru

Best match position searching for 'Koru' is now #11 out of 67.

Please note, this is not an attempt to figure out how to 'game' the best match.  I'm trying to work out if - by doing what iStock officially advise on keywords - I'm spending time and effort on sending my work to the far back of search results.

Any suggestions?  And thanks if you managed to read all the way down to here  ;D

12 / Second delay in RC targets
« on: March 30, 2011, 13:42 »

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams

At least Douglas Adams produced work of excellent quality when it did arrive.

To quote Kelly from September last year:
Since roughly 2005 we've been aware of a basic problem with how our business works. As the company grows, the overall percentage we pay out to contributing artists increases. In the most basic terms that means that iStock becomes less profitable with increased success. As a business model, its simply unsustainable: businesses should get more profitable as they grow.

Since roughly September 2010, I haven't been worried about whether my business can get more and more profitable (as Kelly claims that businesses should), I've been trying to work out if my business here going forward can be profitable at all.

How can it be that with iStock fully aware that this issue is very important to contributors, they have chosen to leave it right until the end of Q1 to pass along the fact that their second commitment on this is not going to be met?  Can they really still be so utterly inept at management and communication?  Also, great to see the thread locked to prevent any discussion of their continuing ineptitude.

So now no date has been given for when we can expect this information, which will have a huge influence over contributors' future incomes.  Of course chances are that there'll be nothing before the jolly in London, so probably some time in May at the absolute earliest.

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