19 Jan 2009 Vivozoom – Bringing Traditional Buyers to Microstock
According to market research conducted by this latest entrant into the microstock market, some traditional stock photo buyers avoid buying microstock due to the absence of a legal guarantee from the agency. While traditional agencies provide a legal guarantee that the images they sell are legally sound, it is assumed microstock agencies are unable to do so given they crowdsource image supply. Vivozoom aims to change that by creating an agency with microstock pricing AND guaranteed images.
So how will they achieve that? Hand-picking contributors is part of it. The market is now mature enough that there’s no longer a need for crowdsourcing to build a large and high quality portfolio. Other microstock agencies provide a simple and free resource for identifying and contacting serious microstockers – those who are dependable for the integrity of their photos and releases (that they’re not stolen photos or fraudulent releases) and who can supply sufficient volume at a high quality level.
The Differences Don’t Stop There
As if warranting images and sourcing contributors by invitation only wasn’t enough, Vivozoom have a bilateral contract, meaning contributors must agree to any changes. Their royalty calculation method is also potentially lucrative for contributors as it passes on the benefits of unused subscription quotas.
Additionally, Vivozoom is moving away from the ‘community’ model, with no reviews or ratings and no visible indication of the quantity of downloads. Vivozoom is all business.
Who is Vivozoom?
From the website: “The founders of Vivozoom are Lawrence Gould, previously a director of Tony Stone Images and CFO Getty Images and Tom Donnelly, former VP E-Commerce Getty.”
|Minimum Image Size||4 megapixels|
|Pricing||TBA – subscription|
|Payment Methods||PayPal, Bank transfer|
|Payment threshold||$50 for PayPal, $100 for bank transfer in the US ($200 outside US)|
|Referral Program||5% for buyers only|
|Application Process||Invitation only|
|Upload Methods||HTML Form, FTP, Post DVD or Hard drive|
|Delete images?||Yes, immediately and individually|
So Will it Work?
Vivozoom’s founders invested heavily in research to identify and measure this group of stock photo buyers prepared to buy microstock but who weren’t prepared to buy images without a guarantee. The results indicated that there is enough of a market for Vivozoom to thrive with this business model.
Microstock agencies report experiencing very few legal issues with model releases. They actually find stock photographers coming in from the traditional market have a higher proportion of problems meeting the model release requirements. This indicates microstock agencies are more strict with model releases than the traditional market. This is consistent with differences in image quality criteria between the two markets, and is understandable given the nature of an open supply model requires a more ruthless enforcement.
Fraudulent attempts to upload images are obviously higher at microstock agencies given the open model, but image-to-image search facilities at many microstock agencies help catch this fraud as it happens and before the images are available for sale. As a result, microstock agencies experience varying levels of fraud related issues.
So with model release issues rarely, if ever, experienced and fraudulent submissions usually caught in the act, traditional stock buyers may have little to worry about and Vivozoom’s unique selling proposition may not be the key to accessing corporate buyers. We’ll have to wait to see the quantity of buyer activity when Vivozoom opens for business to know the answer.
However, we won’t need to wait to see how their photographer recruitment process will go. They already have over 100,000 images in their portfolio and many high profile microstock contributors registered (see below). Overcoming the difficulty of attracting top microstockers before demonstrating an ability to deliver buyers is extremely difficult for new agencies to do. Vivozoom have done it in record time.
More About that Royalty Structure
Vivozoom’s first product will be a subscription and the contributor royalty rate will be 40%. While the pricing strategy hasn’t been officially announced yet, they’re indicating they’ll offer a $300 monthly subscription with a 25-per-day download quota. Unlike other microstock subscriptions (and not too dissimilar to that of iStockphoto) the contributor royalty will be determined at the conclusion of the subscription period, paying contributors 40% of the subscription fee divided by the download quantity.
With the provided example of a $300 subscription with 25/day download limit, the royalty- in theory – ranges from $120 to $0.15. A typical download rate of 100 images (I’ve heard 9/day is a common average for subscriptions) would pay a royalty of $1.20 per sale.
While pricing information hasn’t been released yet, they’re aiming at two markets. A single-seat license pitched at a premium to Shutterstock for website designers and a higher, multi-seat license for corporates.
What Else is it Helpful to Know?
- The Vivozoom contributor agreement is available here
- The Vivozoom image warranty is available here
- FAQs for contributors are here
- Due to the image guarantee they’re super-strict on property releases
- When you first upload there’s a 3 test images process, but it’s just to trigger authentication of your account, not an image quality test
Who’s Already Contributing?
Among the contributors who’ve already been selected, approached, signed up and contributed their portfolios are microstock celebrities Andres Rodriguez, Yuri Arcurs, Ron Chapple’s iofoto, and Kirsty Pargeter.
When Will Vivozoom Launch?
They’re entering alpha testing this February (2009) and after that the exact launch date will depend on the size of the portfolio, specifically having ample results for popular search terms.
Not Received an Invitation?
Not all contributors make their contact details publicly known, so Vivozoom has had some trouble contacting some contributors they’d like to invite. For that reason, they suggest people interested in applying as a contributing photographer contact them to apply for an invitation code.
Update 2009-01-20: I modified this post slightly to balance the microstock-risk issue after some feedback from the industry (for which I am grateful and from which I am perpetually learning).