16 Jun 2009 German Telecom Enters Microstock with Polylooks

Prominent German photographer Robert Kneschke wrote a comprehensive news update on Polylooks on his blog. He generously agreed to translate it into English for me to publish here.

Polylooks screenshot

Update 2009-09-15: Polylooks have now launched in English.

The dice are rolling. There’s a new player in the microstock game. Polylooks is the name of the first German microstock agency powered by Deutsche Telekom AG (German Telecom) launched on June 3rd 2009. The agency is working with another German picture agency, Zoonar who have provided over 125.000 images to launch Polylooks.

Polylooks combines three areas:

  1. Mediastore – this is the main area where images can be sold and bought
  2. Community – photographers can present and rate images, there will be photo contests and a forum is in the making. This area is still in the beta-phase.
  3. Magazine – this is basically the already existing “Augenblicke” magazine from T-Online, the online section of Deutsche Telekom. It’s an editorial area where photos and related stories will be presented.

The most important facts for image buyers:

  • Prices range from 1 credit for the smallest (about 226 x 340 pixels) to 15 credits for the biggest resolution (about 3300 x 4961 pixels). A credit costs 1 Euro at this time. The standard licence is Royalty Free. There is a merchandising licence available for 50 credits. When buying more than 25 credits at a time you will get a discount.
  • There are different subscription choices available from one to 12 months and 10 to 120 credits per month.
  • Payment is done by credit card, large-volume-buyers can pay by invoice too. Payment via PayPal will be implemented soon.
  • The search function offers to search by keywords, categories, emotions, alignment, size and date.
  • The image collection focuses on nature, travel, wellness and business, but there will be concentrated efforts to add German and European motives.

The most important facts for suppliers:

  • Images need to have at least 6 MP (about 2000 x 3000 Pixel) to get accepted.
  • Other technical upload requirements: only JPG, RGB-colorspace (preferably AdobeRGB), 8 Bit color depth, no or only little compression (10-12 in Photoshop), max. file size 50 MB.
  • 20 images per day can be uploaded.
  • An image must contain at least 10 keywords.
  • Keywords can be entered in German or English.
  • Polylooks advises not to just keyword the basic word forms but the conjugations as well (for example: “play”: plays, played, playing).
  • Illustrations should be compatible with EPS and Adobe Illustrator, an additional JPG (6 MP, max. file size 50 MB) should be supplied.
  • The royalty share for the suppliers is 35%, or 50% for exclusive content. Subscription downloads will be credited accordingly.
  • The payout limit is 25 Euros.

It is a rough time for new microstock agencies, but German Telecom has a solid financial basis and a ready-to-operate marketing department. It also has a strong hold in the mobile communication sector (T-Mobile) and is one of the biggest suppliers of broadband internet (T-Online). This provides easy connection to potential image buyers, e.g. wallpapers on cell phones or pictures for blogs and websites of T-Online customers.

German Telecom has no history in the stock photography market, but the deal with Zoonar makes up for it. Zoonar has been around since 2006 and the owner is a long-time stock photographer.

We will see how Polylooks develops in this tough microstock times and how the big players will react.

Check out Robert’s blog in original German or the Google translated version.

  • Luis Santos
    Posted at 07:55h, 16 June Reply

    Hi! After this great article about this new agency, what do think? We should give it a try? Will it be worth, or another YAYMicro and FeaturePics?

    thanks and cheers

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 18:43h, 16 June Reply

      Hey Luis, this is more a news article than a review. It’s tough, but agencies have to demonstrate something different or (preferably) an ability to cause sales to encourage contributors to invest the time to upload and submit their portfolios. I’ll be holding off for the moment to see how things go.

    Posted at 17:10h, 16 June Reply

    Cool article…but I’m kind of tired of uploading to brand new agencies and having no sales at all… Maybe this could be another YAY as Luis said…or maybe it could work out well in the future…Maybe I’ll give it a try…

  • microstockphoto
    Posted at 17:44h, 16 June Reply

    Although it’s tempting to join and although -being in Europe – I’d really like to see a European agency succeed…

    no more new agencies for me at present, sorry: it’s better to spend some time more shooting than uploading to every possible site. A single good picture at top selling agencies can earn you more than uploading your whole portfolio to a new site.

  • john lund
    Posted at 03:03h, 18 June Reply

    I think the real story here is not that there is now yet another Micro agency, but that a telecom company is entering the fray. It may well be that someday soon that Getty and Corbis et. al. will not be the dominant players in the visual asset busines….


    • saniphoto
      Posted at 17:22h, 26 June Reply

      You are right, John. I think this is exactly why Lee wrote the post (very interesting indeed, as usual!).
      The fact that DT is going to enter in the field, is a sign that something still can happen in stock or microstock world… and moreover, we speak about an European telcom giant, so could be worth to closely look at what happens.

  • Sinisa Botas
    Posted at 05:24h, 20 June Reply

    I think it’s all clear:

    1.T-Com is a telecommunications giant in Europe and a large consumer of the marketing including the photography and design.
    2.Opening microstok site, they will reduce investment in marketing, since it, they will practically be able to get pictures for their own business for the less price without commissions for agency etc…
    3.Telecommunications is the job on its maximum with very high income, that can not be spend.
    4.Multimedia is the nearest to telecommunications, so it is actually a logical sequence of investments in something like microstok industry.
    5.T-Com is the operator who practically has a monopoly in my country,very big marketplace.

  • pdtnc
    Posted at 13:01h, 22 June Reply

    I had emails and a phone call from them before the launch, I never had time to reply properly and they called while I was working.
    I’ve not got time for another stock site at present, Veer might see some uploading action when I have a minute.

  • Mahantesh C Morabad
    Posted at 07:10h, 27 August Reply

    I could not locate English version of Polylooks web site. Is it availble or not?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 07:43h, 27 August Reply

      No Mahantesh, they don’t have an English version yet and haven’t said they plan to have one either. The site is totally German focused so far.

  • Alex
    Posted at 16:50h, 02 July Reply

    The English language site is up now at http://uk.polylooks.com

    As John said this is interesting with a big player from another industry jumping in. I suspect it’s a an indication of the increasing importance of the mobile/online media sector in image sales that DT want to get involved and build themselves an image bank asset.

  • R. Kneschke
    Posted at 13:02h, 25 September Reply

    Just an update: Polylooks closed its doors in December 31th 2010.

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