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Author Topic: Is it time to pull the plug on StockXpert/JIU/Photos.com?  (Read 6262 times)

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« on: May 06, 2009, 03:23 »
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I am extremely concerned about the ongoing developments at StockXpert/Photo.com/JUI and I wonder whether it is finally becoming time to pull my portfolio there. If they ever remove the opt-out for subscriptions at JIU/Photos.com then I will definitely be removing my portfolio.

My main points of concern are as follows;

1) Falling revenue. Over the last few months they have slipped from generating around 9% (and growing) of my total revenue to just over 5% (and falling).

2) Photos.com Plus/Jupiter Images Unlimited. In my view the aggressive marketing at these agencies represent the most serious threat to microstockers' income we have ever faced. Subscriptions at both of these sites, especially annual packages, undercut all the other agencies we enjoy supporting. I'm increasingly of the mind that we should not be supporting these two agencies at all.

3) Unsustainable. The cheapest subscription packages are almost certainly losing JIU/Photo.com money at the current payout of 30c. They might be happy to fund a loss-leader initially but eventually something will have to change. Either they're going to have to increase prices or reduce our royalties. Judging by the 3c royalties being offered to IS exclusives I think we know which is the more likely.

4) Contributors not credited their work at Photos.com/JIU. I absolutely hate this __ it is as if we don't matter. I know they've said they're trying to do something about this but it is has been many months now and I don't think they really intend to put the resources in to achieve it.

5) XXL Sizes for 30c. I hate this too. I know that they have said that they might restrict this ... but at the cost of losing our opt-out.

6) Developments at IS. It is almost beyond my comprehension that they are seriously proposing grabbing exclusive images (they already have most of the non-exclusive images) and paying as little as 3c a pop. It is however a major red-light to the future if we continue to support JIU/Photos.com.

7) Unrecorded/acknowledged sales at JIU/Photos.com. This fiasco was particularly disturbing and we only realised what was happening when sales completely stopped and we were able to compare notes. I've got precious little confidence that the system is working properly and anyway we have no way of checking it (other than buying a subscription).

I feel that we microstockers are effectively being sleepwalked over the edge of a cliff here and I suspect that many, possibly most, are unaware just how serious this situation is.

Actually this exercise has been quite cathartic for me. Having detailed my concerns I now realise that I have little choice but to act and opt out of subs at StockXpert. It might cost me a few % of income but I will sleep better.

The developments at IS, whilst still ongoing, make it obvious to me that we must vote with our portfolios and only support those agencies that genuinely offer us a future.

There is a real danger that JIU/Photos.com will damage the sustainability of other fairer agencies (if they haven't already) or the other agencies will have to act likewise in order to compete. Either way we stand to lose __ big time.






« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2009, 03:31 »
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My overall earnings have gone up a lot since photos.com came along.  I believe it is a profit making business because people don't use their full download quotas, the same as we see with shutterstock.  I will wait and see what happens with the istock link up.  We are all guessing at the moment.

I would like to see them raise the $0.30 commission, that is my only complaint so far.  They could use the SS or DT model to increase commission as sales increase.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 03:38 by sharpshot »

« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2009, 03:33 »
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Agree with OP.
Pandora's box should stay closed.

« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2009, 03:40 »
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There are too many subs sites out there already.  If we quit this one, we should leave them all.  I don't see that happening.

« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2009, 04:02 »
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There are too many subs sites out there already.  If we quit this one, we should leave them all.  I don't see that happening.

The point that I think you may be missing is that the others actually have sustainable business models.

If you took out an annual sub at SS for example, and downloaded all the images you were entitled to, then the cost to SS in royalties would be about the same as the income from the sub package __ their profit is in the unused downloads.

If on the other hand you purchased a similar package from JUI or Photos.com Plus it would cost you $1200. If you downloaded all your entitlement from the StockXpert collection then JIU/Photos would be paying out $2700 in royalties. That's a huge difference __ they'd even lose money if you downloaded only half your entitlement.

The other sub sites also have either higher payouts or other benefits in either promoting images or the author's rank.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 04:07 by gostwyck »

« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2009, 04:17 »
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There are too many subs sites out there already.  If we quit this one, we should leave them all.  I don't see that happening.

The point that I think you may be missing is that the others actually have sustainable business models.

If you took out an annual sub at SS for example, and downloaded all the images you were entitled to, then the cost to SS in royalties would be about the same as the income from the sub package __ their profit is in the unused downloads.

If on the other hand you purchased a similar package from JUI or Photos.com Plus it would cost you $1200. If you downloaded all your entitlement from the StockXpert collection then JIU/Photos would be paying out $2700 in royalties. That's a huge difference __ they'd even lose money if you downloaded only half your entitlement.

The other sub sites also have either higher payouts or other benefits in either promoting images or the author's rank.
Big companies buy subs packages because they want to know their budget for images each month.  They have no interest in downloading their full quota or even half their full quota.  That is why photos.com is a sustainable business model.  Do you seriously think the new owners would keep the site going if it wasn't?  They are an investment company renowned for buying companies at a low price, turning them round and selling for a decent profit.  They would get rid of this quick if it wasn't making them money.

« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2009, 04:27 »
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Big companies buy subs packages because they want to know their budget for images each month.  They have no interest in downloading their full quota or even half their full quota.  That is why photos.com is a sustainable business model.  Do you seriously think the new owners would keep the site going if it wasn't?  They are an investment company renowned for buying companies at a low price, turning them round and selling for a decent profit.  They would get rid of this quick if it wasn't making them money.

So why are they now wanting to take all the risk out of it by paying IS contributors according to the download numbers __ which might be as little as one tenth what we are currently receiving?

Also, as an investment house they are likely to have very deep pockets. They could probably afford to lose money in the short term if it damaged/reduced the competition and they gained market share in the long term

« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2009, 04:34 »
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They are projecting they are going to pay us substantially more than we get now "Were projecting the average royalty payout to be 30 55a significant upside to similar competitive subscriptions."

The average is around 40% more than the 30 cents subs we get now.  I am sure they will still be making a profit on this, so they must be making lots now.  I remember Yuri worked out how much of their quota SS subscribers use and it was a much lower percentage than I had thought.  I can't find the tread now but it is here somewhere.

« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2009, 04:56 »
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They are projecting they are going to pay us substantially more than we get now "Were projecting the average royalty payout to be 30 55a significant upside to similar competitive subscriptions."

The average is around 40% more than the 30 cents subs we get now. 

Oh come on! You don't really believe those figures do you?

Do the maths. The average of the figures you have quoted is 42.5c. For them to pay that would require an annual subscriber to download just 7% of their entitlement __ and that's for exclusives. It would need to be 6% for independents to get that much.

I appreciate what you are saying about budgeting but I can't imagine many subscribers not bothering to download 93% of their entitlement. It would end up costing them nearly $2 per image and are there are much cheaper options than that on all the other sites. The projections you've quoted are simply absurd.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 04:57 by gostwyck »

« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 05:20 »
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Until this starts, I have no idea what their average subs will be.  They might be wildly optimistic with their predictions but other people are looking a the worst case scenario, if everyone bought the most expensive annual package and downloaded their full quota..  Might as well wait and see what the actual numbers are.  They wont get many people opting in if the average subs commission is less than 30 cents.

« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 05:29 »
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Until this starts, I have no idea what their average subs will be.  They might be wildly optimistic with their predictions but other people are looking a the worst case scenario, if everyone bought the most expensive annual package and downloaded their full quota..  Might as well wait and see what the actual numbers are.  They wont get many people opting in if the average subs commission is less than 30 cents.

30 cents --if true-- for any size. Don't forget it.,

« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 05:31 »
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From the figures Jon Oringer gave out when SS had been going a few months it seems that the average subscriber downloads about 30-40% of their entitlement. It that were the case at JIU/Photos then we'd be getting average royalties in the region of 7-9c.

tan510jomast

« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2009, 05:37 »
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..
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 06:00 by tan510jomast »

« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2009, 05:42 »
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From the figures Jon Oringer gave out when SS had been going a few months it seems that the average subscriber downloads about 30-40% of their entitlement. It that were the case at JIU/Photos then we'd be getting average royalties in the region of 7-9c.
I am sure it is much lower than that now.  I can't remember what the number was that Yuri worked out but I was shocked how low it was.  How do you work out 7-9c when you don't know what packages the photos.com subscribers are using?  Isn't this just a guess?

« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2009, 05:57 »
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I am sure it is much lower than that now.  I can't remember what the number was that Yuri worked out but I was shocked how low it was.  How do you work out 7-9c when you don't know what packages the photos.com subscribers are using?  Isn't this just a guess?

I've simply multiplied it upwards from the worst-case-scenario so yes, it is a guess in that regard. There are so many variables we can't do much else without hard data from actual sales. I certainly don't believe the 'projections' though.

How could Yuri 'work it out' anyway unless he's been granted access to the confidential data? His own data is likely to be statistically more reliable than most, because of the quantity he sells in, but even so I don't see how he could work the figures backwards to come up the % that subscribers actually download. Again, he wouldn't know which packages had been bought either.

tan510jomast

« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2009, 06:10 »
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I have a different question, though somewhat related.Am I just imagining it, or is it just coincidental that we are seeing Veer/Snap Village, PantherMedia , ... threads opening up in the midst of this IS crisis? Is there a makeover storm brewing in the near future?

« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2009, 06:17 »
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I am sure it is much lower than that now.  I can't remember what the number was that Yuri worked out but I was shocked how low it was.  How do you work out 7-9c when you don't know what packages the photos.com subscribers are using?  Isn't this just a guess?

I've simply multiplied it upwards from the worst-case-scenario so yes, it is a guess in that regard. There are so many variables we can't do much else without hard data from actual sales. I certainly don't believe the 'projections' though.

How could Yuri 'work it out' anyway unless he's been granted access to the confidential data? His own data is likely to be statistically more reliable than most, because of the quantity he sells in, but even so I don't see how he could work the figures backwards to come up the % that subscribers actually download. Again, he wouldn't know which packages had been bought either.
Yuri was using an estimate but I am sure his was more accurate than just assuming everyone takes out the cheapest subs package and downloads like crazy.  That isn't happening, if it was, we would see the same amount of downloads on weekends and holidays.  I think all the big subs sites are making a good profit and some of them probably give us a worse percentage of the profits than the PPD sites.

« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 06:57 »
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Yuri was using an estimate but I am sure his was more accurate than just assuming everyone takes out the cheapest subs package and downloads like crazy.  That isn't happening, if it was, we would see the same amount of downloads on weekends and holidays.  I think all the big subs sites are making a good profit and some of them probably give us a worse percentage of the profits than the PPD sites.


Here's the thread in which Yuri offered his 'working out' __ interesting you too were highly sceptical of his figures at the time!

http://www.microstockgroup.com/istockphoto-com/considering-closing-account-in-2008/50/

You might note that a major error in his figures (a factor of 3x) was pointed out by travellinglight, a point that Yuri later conceded.

Personally I'd have more faith in what Jon Oringer wrote than Yuri's unnamed 'back end source'. It doesn't make much sense to talk of an 'average of 15-30%' anyway.

If average subscription downloads were significantly below 30% then they would simply make no sense __ you'd be much better off buying a credit package at DT, FT, etc and those could be budgeted for just as easily for a company that wanted to limit outgoings.

It seems that we get paid roughly 35% commission on PPD and EL's too at SS which again is in line with Jon's original statement too.

bittersweet

« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2009, 07:02 »
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I have a different question, though somewhat related.Am I just imagining it, or is it just coincidental that we are seeing Veer/Snap Village, PantherMedia , ... threads opening up in the midst of this IS crisis? Is there a makeover storm brewing in the near future?
Don't know anything about PantherMedia, but Veer has been in the works for a while. They have certainly found themselves in a favorable position to benefit from what could be a mass exodus of crownbearers over at iStock.

« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2009, 10:45 »
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I am extremely concerned about the ongoing developments at StockXpert/Photo.com/JUI and I wonder whether it is finally becoming time to pull my portfolio there...

2) Photos.com Plus/Jupiter Images Unlimited. In my view the aggressive marketing at these agencies represent the most serious threat to microstockers' income we have ever faced. Subscriptions at both of these sites, especially annual packages, undercut all the other agencies we enjoy supporting. I'm increasingly of the mind that we should not be supporting these two agencies at all.

3) Unsustainable. The cheapest subscription packages are almost certainly losing JIU/Photo.com money at the current payout of 30c. They might be happy to fund a loss-leader initially but eventually something will have to change. Either they're going to have to increase prices or reduce our royalties. Judging by the 3c royalties being offered to IS exclusives I think we know which is the more likely...

There is a real danger that JIU/Photos.com will damage the sustainability of other fairer agencies (if they haven't already) or the other agencies will have to act likewise in order to compete. Either way we stand to lose __ big time.

This interests me as I begin to flesh out my own "plan B" - which sites to upload to if I have to stop being exclusive at iStock (I was an independent for nearly 4 years until last August).

 One of the reasons I switched to exclusive was concerns about various predatory (to contributor) moves and a belief/hope that I was moving to a site that was in it for the long haul. Watching Getty try to go after SS - and I think SS realizes this if you look at the marketing program they announced yesterday - and thinking that if they were to succeed, that replaces higher royalties with much lower ones for all of us.

I did have my porfolio at StockXpert, but I'm not sure putting it back there makes any sense as I'm fairly certain that if Getty succeeds in pushing through this grab for IS content, the next thing is that they'll change the StockXpert contributor deal as well.

The argument that if you sell subs one place you should do so everywhere doesn't make sense to me - it's about monthly income over time and which sites can deliver it. I gather SS has had a few ups and downs lately, but possibly this marketing push will avoid them becoming a casualty of a rush to the former Jupiter properties.


 

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