Microstock agency Pixmac have announced that they are now reselling Dreamstime images and have added a new 'luxury' collection of macrostock priced content from image source. This in addition to their own microstock collection, celebrity images and reselling of images from Fotolia.
The site now features a series of tabs that allows buyers to easily select from the various collections.
Being able to buy images from two of the biggest microstock agencies in one place is by far the most interesting news here. I know from my own limited experience in buying that I sometimes have to visit several microstock agencies to find the right image and in some cases then go to alamy if desperate... Most buyers don't know or don't care where the images came from, what matters is that for their search terms they find a result and from there it's easy to pay and download the image; this is especially true for microstock buyers many of whom have never bought a stock photo before or do so quite infrequently.
The new 'luxury' collection is not another premium microstock, it offers access to a macrostock priced collection of 100,000 images from one agency, but conceivably could be used to resell a wider range of macrostock content. We can contrast this with veer offering microstock images to their existing macrostock client base.
We don't yet know how many Dreamstime images are available from Pixmac, as with Fotolia I expect the number to grow over the next few months, it took many months for 'several million' FT images to be included.
I'd be the first to say I was not always a fan of pixmac, by their own admission they launched too early before everything was quite ready and in doing so caused some confusion and upset to parts of the (easily upset?) microstock contributor community. Over the past 12 months they have been continually improving their site and their marketing, a pixmac blog post from August outlines some of the improvements and answers photographers concerns.
Pixmac have introduced several features to make them stand out from the start-up crowd, the ability to buy an image in three minutes without need to register being I think one of the biggest innovations. Time and again in e-commerce we learn that the easier it is to buy the more sales are made - signing up for an account, confirming emails, in some cases adding the image again to a basket then going through payment to finally download is something that microstock could get away with because of the dangled carrot of a cheap image. Now that lots of agencies offer similar prices, and often the same images, the differentiator is search and ease of use. Pixmac offer the price concious a credit based option, and those a hurry the ability to solve their image needs without questions like "how many credits would you like to buy".
Is this the Future?
Future of buying any image conveniently from just one location might be many years away in a seemingly utopian internet of semantic tagged self organising photos, this is clearly only a tiny step there. There is currently no standardisation in the APIs used to resell stock photos, and despite how modern and great we might all think IPTC data and controlled vocabulary's are, searching images with words is still incredibly difficult in a world where search engines simply scan page titles and the 'words located somewhere around an image'. Yes there are various services that search several microstock agencies like cyclo.ps and the picniche search bar but they hardly make the buying process more convenient, you still need accounts at each of the agencies.
Having everything in one place has lots of advantages but also some disadvantages and so still leaves plenty of marketplace for niche agencies and (something I've been waiting to see for some time) niche collections of pre-selected images sourced from one or more microstock agencies then sold via a specially targeted conduit (that conduit being a niche website, or built into an application).
Microstock is nothing without the buyers and nothing without the photographers or artists who contribute. For me and a lot of other photographers pixmac asks questions none of which this announcement answers, in fact with my images already on dreamstime and fotolia do I even continue to upload? For the present, yes, submission is easy; I can make a larger cut of the sale if my image is sold direct from pixmac and any that are sourced from FT and DT are icing on the cake at those agencies. Sales for me are still slow and I'll continue monitoring my pixmac sales - I currently only have 125 images with them so at present the Jury is out.
From the buyers aspect this is great news, a single site that offers coverage of two of the biggest agencies in one place, a taste of macrostock if you want to get something special and the bold move of including a free images tab along side the paid photos I think will work well at attracting new customers and making the 'one stop shop' effect even more complete.