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Author Topic: Shutterstock, one year later, what's the impact on revenue?  (Read 1186 times)

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« on: May 31, 2021, 07:49 »
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So, one year after SS started to implement their shameful new scheme, I wanted to check a bit more in detail what was the impact on the revenue. Given I'm measuring my monthly performance from the 26th of a month till the 25th of the following month (mainly because the very last days of each month are very busy for me), I already have some data (even though it takes in account a few day with the old scheme).

Important to mention: my portfolio is 99% images, 60 to 70% editorial (I'm working part time as a correspondent, so I tend to recycle a lot of unused images on microstock).


Revenue is down, yes


Globally, on Shutterstock, my revenue decreased by 9% since the new scheme has been implemented.

Not that bad, you may say? Well, in parallel, I considerably increased the numbers of files for sale.

If I look at the yRPI, we get a totally different picture: it decreased by 37%!

Actually, external reasons could explain this decrease:
  • March and April 2020 were outstanding. As a result of the pandemic, I got a much higher demand in editorial files, and I got lucky with other things. I seriously couldn't expect pictures of facemasks and hazmat suits from a 2019 footage about asbestos removal to be reused in such a context, for instance. When the volumes got back to normal, the comparative performance went lower. 
  • Due to the pandemic, I ran out of higher quality files. Without possibility to travel, to attend festivals, fairs, exhibitions, concerts, and with a political life close to zero, I had to find alternatives. The only ones I could get was life under covid, and what I would call "premium duck-in-pond pictures" (pictures of everyday life topics, but shot with the highest quality gear and more elaborate processing). As a result, the interest was lower than usual. 
  • To counter this lower interest, I increased my production, especially about Covid-related photos. Taken individually, their RPI is much lower. Considering the low production costs (no need to travel, and a pretty easy keywording), the operation was financially ok, comparable to some of the microstock trips I made.

So, what is the reason behind this decrease? My portfolio, or Shutterstock?

To compare, let's have a look at the other main channels, as I submit almost the same files to every platform (except, of course, Adobe).
IS
  • Revenue: -1.7%
  • yRPI: -32%
Alamy
  • Revenue: +19%
  • yRPI: -17%
Dreamstime
  • Revenue: +25%
  • yRPI: -14%
Adobe
  • Revenue: +50%
  • yRPI: -8%
Bigstock
  • Revenue: -29%
  • yRPI: -50%
DP
  • Revenue: +28%
  • yRPI: -18%
123RF
  • Revenue: +19%
  • yRPI: +8

So, as we can see, globally, the RPI decreased everywhere, Bigstock and IS, especially, are a bit concerning, but
SS is comparatively doing very bad.


Even in terms of global revenue, we can see that SS badly impacted the numbers:
  • Total revenue evolution including Shutterstock: +4%
  • Total revenue evolution without Shutterstock: +11%

So, we can definitely see there's something wrong coming from Shutterstock.

Structure of the revenue on Shutterstock

I went as well a bit deeper, to check the performance per type of sale, and I found something interesting, the only slightly encouraging signal:
  • Revenue from subs: -31%
  • Revenue from SOD: +8.5%
  • Revenue from Others/Enhanced: +50%

As we can see, while the year has been a disaster for subs, the other types of sales increased, spectacularly for the case of others.

I double checked as well if it's due to some unusually high sales, but it's not: I haven't got any sale sale on SS above $99 in the period I took in consideration. In parallel, both for SOD and Others, the monthly numbers since June 2020 have been better than the previous year in 7 out of 12 months. We are talking about a sustainable growth. (in comparison: subs revenue was lower in 11 our of 12 months).

So, it seems SS sales are starting to behave like IS. SOD/others have a greater impact on the revenue than before. As a result, it means the revenue is much less stable than it used to, as these sales are much less frequent. We're not yet at the level of IS, however, were two or three sales in a month can increase by 100% my monthly performance.

Conclusion

Was the year bad on SS? Definitely yes! It was worse than most of the platforms. However, if the trend on SOD and Others keeps on being the same, I should be able to partially recover from the subs massacre.

Is it my main point of concern? Actually, not! The decrease on IS is much more preoccupying, as the decrease cannot be explained with a change in their scheme. The goal, now, will be to see how sales will go when I will be able to put for sale my first post-pandemic pictures, but I still don't know yet when will this be possible.


 

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