21 Feb 2011 PantherMedia
PantherMedia today announced their new contributor portal, finally replacing their dated and laborious submission system with a much easier and quicker process.
The agency has an interesting history, having evolved considerably over the past three years. They are now considered among the top ten microstock agencies in terms of earnings, and have a lot to set them apart from the others. Let’s take a closer look.
PantherMedia didn’t start life as a microstock agency. When the company launched in 2004 they resembled a traditional agency with staffed sales teams, midstock level pricing and payment by invoice. In 2008 they added an English-language version of their website at the same time and started their evolution towards the microstock business model.
Now they have credits, subscriptions, microstock-level pricing, payment by all the regular online methods and the shiny new contributor portal. They still have the sales teams and payment by invoice, but are, in almost every way, a microstock agency.
What Makes PantherMedia Different?
Euros – customers can pay in one of four different currencies, but contributors are paid in Euros. While not unique, most microstock agencies pay contributors in US Dollars.
Germany – PantherMedia is BIG in Germany. Alexa reports that 69% of their traffic comes from Germany. This is down from 80% in mid-2009, following the translation of their website into English in 2008.
Size-sensitive subscriptions – subscription customers at PantherMedia choose duration (1, 3, 6 or 12 months), quantity of images (100 or 750) per month with no daily limit, and the size (web, print or XXL). Contributors earn 50% commission on the value of each download (price / downloads), averaging 25-30 (Euro cents) for web size, 30 – 35 for print and 35 – 60 for XXL.
The Photo Community – photos can be uploaded separately to appear in the ‘community’ portion of the site where they’re not available for license like images in the ‘agency’. It’s like a mini-Flickr integrated into the site.
Sales teams – beyond the sales support staff that many microstock agencies maintain, PantherMedia has an established sales team actively generating sales for the agency.
Open ratings – some microstock agencies secretly rate images when they’re reviewed, but like BigStock, PantherMedia has open ratings from reviewers. Photos can be rated ‘recommended’ or – even better – ‘editorial tip’, receiving a boost in the search result placement. Only editorial tips are visible to the public, but contributors can see both for their own portfolio. It’s a little different in the Photo Community.
Price exclusive bonus – photos which are not available at other agencies for a cheaper price than at PantherMedia receive an extra 20% royalty.
Quantity bonus – bonus royalty increases are obtained as your portfolio size grows, paying 1% extra when you reach 250, up to a maximum of 10% extra for 10,000 images.
Distribution – unlike most microstock agencies who keep their list of distribution partners secret, PantherMedia publishes theirs. Their partners are also primarily non-microstock sellers of stock photo licenses, creating a valuable cross-market distribution opportunity.
|Minimum Image Size||1800 pixels on longest side|
|Vectors||No, but raster illustrations (JPG) can be submitted|
|Licenses||Royalty Free (Commercial and Editorial), Extended Licenses: Corporate; and merchandising.|
|Compensation||30% (or 50% for images not available elsewhere at cheaper prices) + quantity bonus up to 10%|
|Pricing||From €0.80 and up for credits or from €0.20 for subscriptions|
|Payment Methods||PayPal or Wire Transfer|
|Referral Program||10% of referred buyers and contributors for two years|
|Application Process||10 question test, and a 40% acceptance rate on the first 20 images is required to avoid a 2 uploads per day limit|
|Exclusivity||20% higher royalty for images which are not available at other agencies for lower prices|
|Upload Methods||FTP or web form. New contributors with large portfolios can also submit by hard drive or DVD|
|Currencies||EUR, USD, BPS & PLN (Contributors are paid in EUR only)|
|Languages||German, English, Polish|
Pros and Cons
Distribution pricing and royalties – distributor license sales occur at the higher ‘invoice’ pricing levels of PantherMedia, though the distributors’ commission of 40 – 50% are taken out before the contributor royalty is calculated. Most distributor sales generate a higher royalty payment to the contributor than direct sales, but it is possible for certain sales to produce a lower royalty.
Size-sensitive subscriptions – receiving more royalties for larger size downloads not only feels better for contributors but is also more lucrative.
New contributor portal – the new submission process is well-structured and efficient, comparing well to the best in the industry. This turns perhaps the biggest detracting element of PantherMedia into an advantage.
Weak watermark – preview images are very large by microstock standards and the watermark only covers the top corner. Theft of images is thought to be less of an issue in the traditional market where buyers are more professional and have less need for small sized images. This is one aspect that PantherMedia hasn’t adapted for the microstock market. [Update: this has since been addressed with a much stronger watermark]
If you register to take your commissions via PayPal, PantherMedia verifies your account first by taking a €0.35 payment. This is a little unusual, but if it overcomes disputes over payments it’s not a big deal.
PantherMedia is among the top revenue generating agencies in the microstock market as evidenced by the ongoing earnings poll at Microstock Group and the many microstock contributors I’ve asked. With the new submission process and contributor portal, it’s very likely to be a financially worthwhile process submitting your content. None of the issues or weaknesses of the agency are deal-breakers, and it’s difficult to overlook their ability to generate revenue – the most illusive aspect of the smaller and newer microstock agencies.
I’ve already started uploading my portfolio and hope to get the majority of my better images online in the coming months.
You can register at PantherMedia here.