New tools to redesign Shutterstock photo and video search

It is a challenge for anyone selling a wide range of anything online: how do you get the right products to the right customers?

Shutterstock, which sells art stock photos and videos for clients such as advertising agencies and PowerPoint presenters, the problem of matchmaking in spades. With 550,000 active customers and more than 23.7 million images, associating the right buyer with the right picture is not easy.

This is why the New York-based company, which went public last October, is retooling the way it presents its products to better compete with iStockphoto and other rivals.

Shutterstock has launched a tool to discover new shares images on its website called Spectrum Laboratories that allows people to explore the types of images according to their dominant color. This is not the first example. Last year, it launched an application for iPad "mosaic" interface has wall-to-wall images that customers can quickly browse through the sliding movements. A similar interface for the web, IM, Shutterstock was the first laboratory project.

And this is not the last, said CEO and founder Jon Oringer: an overhaul of the video is on the way so that customers can evaluate film with something approaching ease and speed they can check If search results for still images.

"With 50 thumbnails of the results, it is very easy to scan when it is 50 video clips, it is very difficult to scan -. You do not know what is in each video, "said Oringer." We are working on ways to make this page all the data and show you very quickly. "

In addition, the company has a very Googley approach with its traditional image search techniques, in which customers type in keywords search and see an array of thumbnails. "We follow plane [where people direct their mouse pointers], clicks and downloads," Checking how customers refine the search and otherwise collect data which converts a search in a purchase, says Wyatt Jenkins, vice- president of product. "Our results are more relevant."

The formula works, said Lee Torrens, which monitors the industry Microstock Diaries near.

"They innovate much on the buyer side functionality, helping them to catch up in terms of bringing buyers iStock image they want as quickly as possible," said Torrens. "Overall, they are more faster, staying single friendly contributors, and pushing more towards iStock. " New research techniques may involve different designers or creative in the same state of mind different. With new ways of exploration, "We see people downloading different images. Creativity This is moving in a different direction," said Oringer. And increases the relative use of iPad app on the weekend, he added.

So far, the company has set things in its transition from private to public. Turnover its most recently reported quarter, ended Sept. 30, rose to $ 42.3 million from $ 31.2 million the previous year. Net income increased $ 4.3 million to $ 6.6 million.

Shutterstock has raised $ 82 million in its IPO in October, when the stock traded at $ 17 each. Its title is now trading above $ 24.

Oringer has a significant interest in the way things are in the business of 250 employees - in fact, holding 55.2 percent of shares, a controlling interest. Stock imagery in short
Photos are a staple in the diet of imagery advertisers - the elderly couple walking in the park, the woman made the future in a yoga pose, businessmen shaking hands. They are used in everything from annual reports blog.

Ten years ago, the company stock photograph left in the hands of a relatively small number of professional photographers a significantly larger pool of people that the image quality of the camera and improved Internet offers a global marketplace. Make possible the microstock business start-ups were led by iStockphoto, that old-school agency Getty Images acquired in 2006. Microstock companies offered relatively cheap pictures for a "royalty free" basis, meaning that customers could pay once to allow a photo, then use again and again in many ways. This is a much more liberal than the traditional rights-managed approach that has come before, in which the use is limited to photograph some geographic areas, time and other constraints.

There are many companies out there microstock - Shutterstock established competitors also Dreamstime, Fotolia and 123RF Images. With dozens of one another there, photographers can make use of intermediaries as more PicWorkFlow will retouch photos, add keywords, and upload to multiple microstock agencies.

Shutterstock tries to stand. One way is not to try to draw contributors exclusive partnerships that increase the royalty payments, if photographers sell images by one microstock.

"The bottom line is that as a photographer microstock it just does not make sense to be the prerogative of a single organization," Oringer said in a blog post. Among the reasons for the company did not offer exclusivity "markets that offer the image of exclusivity for contributors must favor certain images ... While other agencies sort search results based on revenue maximization, we maximize search success. "

Subscription sales
Another peculiarity is that Shutterstock has a subscription model. Customers who spend $ 249 per month (or less, if they sign up for longer periods of time) may download up to 25 images every day. Most microstocks, however, sell an image at a time, one option also offers Shutterstock.

About half of the company revenue comes from subscription plans according to regulatory documents of the company. (Video images, a growing part of the business activity is not available by subscription.)

And Wall Street firms like subscription, with a decline in churn.

"What makes us a good candidate to go public is that we are at the heart of a subscription product with predictable repetition, recurring revenue allows sweet things on a quarter-quarter," said Oringer. "In general, we have a remarkable consistency in terms of subscriber acquisition and tracking how much they download It was stable if stability is changing, we probably would have taken a different path - ... Opted for a more specific kind of raise equity "Subscriptions may seem like a bad idea for helping photographers who provide images of Shutterstock. Society spends only 25 cents per photo for photographers for a shot sold via a subscription according to the formula of Shutterstock Photographer distribution, although this rises to as much as 38 cents per photo photographer living increase sales.

However, a request to purchase a single image generates 81 cents to $ 1.24 for the low resolution images and $ 1.88 to $ 2.85 for high resolution.

Low cost, high volume
But subscriptions can also encourage customers to relax, downloading images more often and do not lose much sleep over which is best, or on which the resolution to buy, Oringer said.

"Shutterstock sells more pictures than anyone in the world", with two images uploaded every second on average, Jenkins said. "In terms of volume, we are the leader ... The subscription is a motivating factor."

And of course, customers who like it will continue with their subscriptions, which is good for Shutterstock contributors. Shutterstock customers who have spent the money spent in 2010 more than twice as much in 2011, a regulatory filing accordinging society. And from 2010 to 2011, the customer growth was 71 percent. (The company has not published statistics 2012).

The approach is the opposite of the strategy of iStockphoto, which focuses on the upsell customers pictures expensive, but it works Torrens said.

"Their business model is still the cheapest of the cheap," says Torrens. But photographers forget this fact, "especially when their Shutterstock sends more money at the end of the month than any other agency."...
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