A Microstock price war?

When smart people are combined with top end technology, something magical happens. Spiderpic is such an example. It’s the brainchild of Ginipic, who have already launched a multiple database search application. Spiderpic is not only an image search portal but also serves as a price comparison site.

To top it all off, it is very simple to use; enter a search parameter and hit enter. You will be offered a variety of images from different sources, nothing really revolutionary so far. However, once you decide which image is right for you, you can click on it and there it will show you its price on different sites. Same image, same size, all the different prices. Thus, you can make the right choice and purchase it at the lowest licensing cost.

Of course, SpiderPic only works with microstock companies for now but it works extremely well. The implications of such a deal are multiple. First, if widely used (it’s in Beta for now), it will drive the microstock companies into a price war that might leave many on the floor. It might also convince more users to go exclusive with one provider, as too avoid a drop in their revenue. Finally, it will put a full stop to the slowly growing cost of microstock.

Since about 90% of the microstock content is available on different competing sites, price shopping, especially with such a great application, will certainly be the new microstock sport very quickly.  The company, Spiderpic, will generate its income via the referral programs of the providers. The more usage, the richer they will get. Furthermore, since the whole process is automated, they can run it with a team as small as two people.

Some microstock companies might be tempted to block access to their database to hide their prices. Not a good idea if and when Spiderpic becomes popular. They might just be ignored by image buyers altogether. Others might decide to make their pricing less obvious, by having a very low call price, enhanced at download time by “hidden” fees. Finally, others might require more obstinate memberships (Shutterstock, subscriptions, etc) in order to keep their current customer base.

Regardless, this tool will put the microstock industry in a tailspin, forcing marketing departments to find other means to attract buyers than just low pricing. It will also make very difficult for any company wishing to increase their prices to do so without losing a lot of customers. Finally, it’s ironic, that the microstock industry finds itself eroding its original appeal at a time when they all thought they could slowly and discreetly increase their rate.

Regardless, this is a great tool. Now, if it could also work for traditional RF, and maybe one day RM that would be great. In the mean time, I highly recommend that you try and use it.

About the author

“This business has too many Surveyors and not enough Bohemians” Roger Therond, legendary photo man, once said to a good friend of mine, Eliane Laffont. This blog is about restoring the balance and letting the Bohemians talk.

Paul Melcher has been named one of the “50 most influential individuals in American photography” by American Photo. He is currently senior vice president of the PictureGroup. He writes the Thoughts of a Bohemian blog.

2 thoughts on “A Microstock price war?

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  • January 29, 2010 at 3:57 am

    There are reasons why there are price differences.

    The lower priced sites offer cheap licenses, yet the customers have to choose from all of these “extended licenses.” The extended licenses (which most customers need) typically cost over $100. After trying to figure out which license they need, they are left beaten down, frustrated and confused and end up paying for the wrong, cheapest license, then the company turns around and sues the customer for mis-use of the images.

    Clipartof does not have any extended license crap. We offer a TRUE royalty-free license, where the images can be used for almost anything, no extended licenses or fine print. This makes it simpler for the customer.

    We are also not about screwing over the artists and outsourcing our jobs to make the big bucks. We are TRULY here for the artists. People can gripe and moan about how expensive everything is and then they wonder where all the jobs went (outsourcing to India – hello!).

    ClipartOf LOOKS expensive here, but once you read the fine print, ClipartOf is simpler and to the point.

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