In a predictive move, Uber microstock giant Istockphoto, owned by Getty, is launching a contributor-wide call for exclusivity. The 6 top microstock companies share about 90 to 95% of their photographer, thus their content. In order to leave the pack, anyone of them should request exclusivity in order to offer their image buyers something the others do not have. With 1.4 downloads per second ( General Motors only sells a car every 3 seconds), Istockphoto is in a very good position to dry up the contributors pool by sucking them in an exclusive relationship.
Obviously they will offer a higher commission in order to make the offer appealing and help their contributor compensate for their possible losses. It seems, from the outside at least, that unlike the Long Tail theory would like us to believe, most of the microstock sales comes from a pool, rather large, of the same contributors. Otherwise, Istock would have not bothered doing this move. If Istockphoto can take them out of the rest of the market they will certainly make their competition suffer, a lot. They will also make it even more difficult for new companies to enter the microstock field, at least with pertinent content.
The reaction from competitors will be interesting to watch . They could go down the same path, declaring an exclusion war that will leave most contributors baffled and confused. One aspect of RF, and a strong one, is its non-exclusivity.Why be exclusive with a product that is sold on a non exclusive basis? After all, isn’t a big part of the microstock game in volume and not on a per image sale. Will an exclusivity with Istock generate enough sales to compensate those lost by leaving its competitor ?Only if a huge amount of contributors decide to make the move simultaneously forcing image buyers to follow them. If 6 or 7 photographers decide to pull out their images from other platforms, there will be not effect. If thousands do so, then image buyers will have no other choice to go where the choice is. Either way, Istock cannot loose.
Some contributors might, however.
And for those who are still confused on how successful microstock is, this traffic ranking from Alexa should help them visual it:
Even Getty Images, with all its fire power cannot even come close to Istock and barely makes it over Dreamstime. Corbis and Jupiter don’t even have a chance. As traditional stock companies continue their stop loss policies, as beautifully explained by Julia Dudnik Stern in Chasing Lost Business Ignores New Markets on sellingstock.com ( subscription only), they fail to understand that they are fighting the battle in the wrong battlefield.
Ever thought why most microstock companies are not attending CEPIC, PACA and BAPLA congress ?