MicrostockGroup Sponsors


Author Topic: My meeting with Shutterstock  (Read 13997 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Ron

« on: November 08, 2013, 03:58 »
+38
DISCLAIMER: This explanation is merely my own interpretation and understanding of some stuff I discussed in an unofficial chat with Shutterstock. Nothing of the following text is an official statement from Shutterstock. Also the accuracy of my explanation is based solely on how I have understood it. The choice of words is my own; please consider that I am not native English. Any conclusion you might take from this does not necessarily have to be the right conclusion as we still dont know any other aspects that werent discussed.

First of all, I didnt ask about a raise because it has been discussed before and Jon has been clear in several interviews about it, that a raise is not an option at the moment.

Second, I forgot to ask about Bigstock and the RC reward system. We only had 90 minutes, and as always afterwards, you have a slap the forehead moment when you realise you forgot to ask about something.

Right, here we go.

Search:
The algorithm is self-learning; it teaches itself by analysing the results of a search and the images that were downloaded with that search. The search is constantly being improved and they are tweaking the search to get the best results for the buyers and the contributors. For example, if on the keyword Red, loads of apples are being downloaded, then images of apples are being pushed forward. The search always tries to come up with a best mix of new and popular images. New images are not favoured per se, but they are important of what is shown to buyers. My opinion is buyers need to see new images every time they visit the site. If the search would go stale, they would lose buyers.

The search results are also based on geographical locations, if a buyer in New York is searching for architecture, he will most likely get to see images of New York or images from people in that location. So geography does play a role in which images appear at the top of certain search results, but I do not have more details on that. I will talk to Shutterstock and see if I can get more details. Related to that though, and I will address keywords later, if using a word that has two English spellings e.g. Organized vs. Organised, its probably best to include both as keywords as people all over the world spell English differently.
Portfolios are not being favoured or punished; its all based on images, not portfolios. I asked why some portfolios stopped selling and other saw an increase. This is at least not done on purpose, from what I understand it could be related to tweaking the search. Shutterstock sees a 3-5 million searches per day.  Knowing that, its very hard to extrapolate individual anecdotal feedback to make a general statement. Portfolio content, keywords, freshness, customer demand, etc., all vary and have an influence on portfolio performance.  As a contributor, its more important to focus on creating a wide variety of fresh, commercially relevant content.  Customer demand will take care of the rest.  Shutterstock is very different than its competitors that way. Overall, quality wins, buyers vote with their downloads. I know all of you create quality content, so please dont be offended by that, its a general comment, not directed at anyone specific.  Believe me when I say Shutterstock wants everybody to do well and they try to get a perfect balance for everyone involved. Also Shutterstock is selling more images than ever. Its just good advice to keep adding new images to keep your portfolio fresh and your images in front of the buyers. If you dont add new images, your sales could slowly drop. In the search they want to achieve the best for the buyer and the contributor. The idea is that a happy contributor base is eminent for success. When they make changes, they do consider the effect it can have on the contributors.


Keywords:
I asked about keyword spam and when something is considered keyword spam. As an example I used my face flag images. I keyword them with conceptual keywords, such as freedom, liberty, independence, etc, etc. This could be considered spam, but as long as the descriptive keywords are used, conceptual keywords are not considered spam. Keywording a dog with cat is obviously still spam. The reason its not considered spam is because the algorithm keeps track of keywords used for a download. For example, if a buyer is looking for the keyword Freedom, images are put in front of the buyer, and if the trend is that a woman running on the beach with open arms gets downloaded more often than other images, than the search will start putting more similar images of the woman on the beach in front of the buyer. So if my images are not downloaded on the keyword freedom could be pushed back in the search. I can see a lot of questions coming from you about this, but this is all I understood from it. It could well be there is more to it, but it might explain a bit more for you than you already know.

Use more conceptual keywords, buyers are searching for concepts. I once posted an image of a sunrise and asked here which keywords to remove as I had too many. Some said to remove New Beginning, amongst other keywords. Funny enough, and purely coincidental, it was the keyword they used as an example. Buyers dont search for Sunrise when the concept is New Beginning, but a Sunrise is a New Beginning. Also it was advised to use time of day, when was the image shot, and use different words (synonyms) i.e. Fall and Autumn for the same image of that season.

Raise:
As said, I didnt ask for a raise, I did ask about keeping things as they are. They know about the backlash that happened over at IS. Shutterstock is well aware of the importance of having a happy contributor base. A happy contributor base brings in buyers. At Shutterstock, they love Shutterstock, they love their contributors, they love their buyer, and they want everybody to do well, and have the same positive outlook. Everyone at Shutterstock is committed to the company and shares in Jons passion. Its no good to them to turn the contributors against them. So in that light, a raise might not be possible, but it also means we shouldnt worry about a cut or something similar. Shutterstock believes that the royalties set as is generates the right balance of contributor earnings and business growth.  Business growth is important for all of us.

Shutterstock control:
Jon is very much in control of Shutterstock, although he sold a chunk of shares, he is still in control. My opinion is investors dont like one person to have too much control. Its not healthy for a business either. When the control is balanced, its better for the company.

The investors, contributors, customers, basically anyone interacting or working with Shutterstock is buying into the vision of the company. Jon is CEO and Founder and he has a strong vision of where he wants to lead Shutterstock to and there are many people that hold this same vision and who are helping make Shutterstock a success and managing operations. That vision is exactly what got them to this point and nothing about that has changed for them. They all believe that the two sides of the marketplace (buyers and contributors) are vital pieces of what they do, and make decisions in line with that. Squeezing the contributors is not the way forward. Yes business is business, but businesses can be successful many different ways without taking it out on the contributors. The culture and structure is very much different from what happens over at G..Y

Reviews:
Not much to say, I asked if they use technology to review the images, yes they do, but a human makes the decision. What happens is that an image is automatically opened on the reviewers screen at 100% and where the focus is sharp. Then the reviewer checks the whole image. Also, theres only one reviewer per batch during the initial review.   Images can get escalated to a 2nd tier or senior-level review if there were specific questions and issues about a batch (think of missing releases, trademark determinations, etc.)

Communications:
They know, they read, they follow, they discuss. There are between 10-20 channels they keep an eye on, Facebook, Twitter, SS Forum, this forum (MSG), etc etc. They read everything :) They respond to questions when necessary but sometimes they have said all they can say about a certain topic. Sometimes they end up going in circles, and that does no one any good. They are working on building their communications team and could only assume things will get better. They are working on more contributor guides, they are getting people in place to answer in the forums, and to answer emails. They get at least a few hundred emails per day as the contributors base now stands at 40,000, and of course they have a lot of buyers. And as mentioned before they also read all these external communication channels.

They also stressed out, that if you are ever in New York, Berlin, or wherever they have an office, you can reach out to them for a meet or a chat. They would love to talk to you and they will make an effort to meet you if possible.

DISCLAIMER: This explanation is merely my own interpretation and understanding of some stuff I discussed in an unofficial chat with Shutterstock. Nothing of the following text is an official statement from Shutterstock. Also the accuracy of my explanation is based solely on how I have understood it. The choice of words is my own; please consider that I am not native English. Any conclusion you might take from this does not necessarily have to be the right conclusion as we still dont know any other aspects that werent discussed.


« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2013, 04:25 »
+2
Thanks for posting. Definitely interesting.

« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2013, 04:58 »
+2
Thanks for posting. Definitely interesting.
+1

« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2013, 05:10 »
+3
ShutterStock is a great company! they treat people with respect and have a great website. I have spoken to them on the phone and can vouch for all that was stated above!

« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2013, 11:50 »
+4
Thanks for posting the info. I do wish you had gotten some insight about their plans for BS and the RC system / undercutting.

The keyword / search info is interesting. Thanks.

« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2013, 11:56 »
+6
Interesting.  As a software engineer I start laughing whenever I encounter over-the-top hype like "The algorithm is self-learning; it teaches itself "  (which I realize you are only passing on verbatim). 

That sort of language is great for impressing investors.  But believe me, there is as yet no code that "teaches itself" in any sense other than accumulating statistics that are used to weight future decisions.  Of course that in itself can be useful and if someone wants to call it "learning", they're free to do so.   But anytime you hear someone talking about "AI", take it with a large number of grains of salt because there most certainly is no such thing in today's world.   


Ron

« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2013, 11:57 »
0
Thanks for posting the info. I do wish you had gotten some insight about their plans for BS and the RC system / undercutting.

The keyword / search info is interesting. Thanks.
I know, That was my slap on the forehead moment. Next time when I get a chance to speak to them, I will ask.

« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2013, 12:00 »
+3
Words and actions are two different things.

SS has had the benefit of true SS Ambasadors since 2004, people who spread the word regarding SS's actions year after year without a dinner, sincere communication of any kind or even a rare thank you from SS.

Those long term SS ambasadors spent countless hours on the SS forum helping other contributors without ever being thanked, in fact they have helped some the NEW SS ambassadors gain acceptance to the site.

Why is SS entertaining new contributors while ignoring the people who helped them become successful in the first place?  Do you suppose that because our incomes have dropped considerably after the algorithm changes... we might not be as naive regarding the propaganda? Do you suppose we would ask tougher and more pertinent questions?

Why do you suppose we are seeing yet another very successful long term SS contributor go exclusive?

Congratulations on the meeting Ron, too bad you forgot to ask them about Bigstock.



Ron

« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2013, 12:04 »
+7
I am not chosen for being new, they emailed everyone with an account within an hour from Dublin, 7 people showed up. Not one of them is on the forums (except me), and one had a 7 year old account. I just had the cheek to fire up all these questions, and they answered all of them with a smile. Even got a few beers from them. Maybe I am biased now. Beer talks.  :)


Shelma1

« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2013, 12:24 »
+2
Thanks for writing all this up!

« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2013, 12:44 »
+1
thanks for posting Ron!

good read..

« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2013, 12:52 »
+1
got my heart!

Ron

« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2013, 13:04 »
+1
Interesting.  As a software engineer I start laughing whenever I encounter over-the-top hype like "The algorithm is self-learning; it teaches itself "  (which I realize you are only passing on verbatim). 

That sort of language is great for impressing investors.  But believe me, there is as yet no code that "teaches itself" in any sense other than accumulating statistics that are used to weight future decisions.  Of course that in itself can be useful and if someone wants to call it "learning", they're free to do so.   But anytime you hear someone talking about "AI", take it with a large number of grains of salt because there most certainly is no such thing in today's world.
I understand but I am a layman, and the person that spoke to me, was not from IT either, the bold part is obviously what I meant and thats exactly how I explained it in my OP. No one ever mentioned AI.

« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2013, 13:05 »
0
Interesting.  As a software engineer I start laughing whenever I encounter over-the-top hype like "The algorithm is self-learning; it teaches itself "  (which I realize you are only passing on verbatim). 

That sort of language is great for impressing investors.  But believe me, there is as yet no code that "teaches itself" in any sense other than accumulating statistics that are used to weight future decisions.  Of course that in itself can be useful and if someone wants to call it "learning", they're free to do so.   But anytime you hear someone talking about "AI", take it with a large number of grains of salt because there most certainly is no such thing in today's world.
I understand but I am a layman, and the person that spoke to me, was not from IT either, the bold part is obviously what I meant and thats exactly how I explained it in my OP. No one ever mentioned AI.

As I said, I realize you are just passing this on.

Ron

« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2013, 13:09 »
0
I know, but SS didnt say they have AI either. No one mentioned that. I just want to have that cleared up  :)

« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2013, 13:15 »
+1
Amen to the thanks, Ron. This is very interesting and helpful information.

« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2013, 13:15 »
+1
Why do you suppose we are seeing yet another very successful long term SS contributor go exclusive?

been wondering about that as well, another professional? ;D


Ron

« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2013, 13:16 »
+1
Why do you suppose we are seeing yet another very successful long term SS contributor go exclusive?

been wondering about that as well, another professional? ;D
Who left?

« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2013, 13:17 »
0
Why do you suppose we are seeing yet another very successful long term SS contributor go exclusive?


been wondering about that as well, another professional? ;D
Who left?


there is also a new entry ANDRESR on istock exclusives

exclusive http://www.istockphoto.com/andresrimaging
no exclusive  http://www.istockphoto.com/andresr

Ron

« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2013, 13:22 »
0
Ow okay, thanks, let see how long his images stay plastered on all micros then.

« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2013, 13:26 »
0
Ow okay, thanks, let see how long his images stay plastered on all micros then.

it looks like a new deal and a different one as well, his iStock exclusive portfolio isn't anywhere I guess, looks like he is going to build an exclusive portfolio for iStock and staying all around indie or maybe not... is that even allowed? I will stop my thought and see what will happen in fact ;)

his latest SS picture is from October 10th to 15th, his first file at iStock is from October 7th
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 13:32 by luissantos84 »

Ron

« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2013, 13:32 »
+2
Ow okay, thanks, let see how long his images stay plastered on all micros then.

it looks like a new deal and a different one as well, his iStock exclusive portfolio isn't anywhere I guess, looks like he is going to build an exclusive portfolio for iStock and staying all around indie or maybe not... is that even allowed? I will stop my thought and see what will happen in fact ;)
I thought Idot was Photographer exclusive, so his images have to be taken down outside Idot? And If he is allowed to be indy and exclusive than they are seriously disrespecting their contributors. Favouritism towards big players.

« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2013, 14:58 »
+4
Thanks for the write up Ron.  Sounds like you guys had a great meet-up with Shutterstock.  Nice to see they are reaching out like that.

« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2013, 15:06 »
+1
Thanks Ron, very informative!

« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2013, 05:20 »
+4
Thanks Ron, interesting read.  I think they have already angered many contributors by setting unreachable targets with BigStock.  It also looks to me that more subs buyers are moving from SS to BigStock.    SS has been relatively contributor friendly but they own a site that seems to be more like istock and FT.  Why have they allowed that?  If anyone gets a chance to talk to them, I hope they ask what's going on there?  It looks like the long term strategy is to build up BigStock subs sales and pay us much less than lots of us currently get with SS.


 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
11 Replies
4179 Views
Last post February 11, 2008, 18:00
by vonkara
1 Replies
2360 Views
Last post October 16, 2008, 12:51
by RT
Alamy Nov 2008 Meeting

Started by RacePhoto Alamy.com

0 Replies
2973 Views
Last post November 08, 2008, 13:27
by RacePhoto
0 Replies
1620 Views
Last post September 15, 2014, 08:59
by Desiren
2 Replies
2156 Views
Last post April 29, 2017, 11:05
by PixelBytes

Sponsors

Mega Bundle of 5,900+ Professional Lightroom Presets

Microstock Poll Results

Sponsors

3100 Posing Cards Bundle