Well, there appears to be some uproar over the latest issue of PDN that arrived in my mailbox today. Apparently, the US Postal Service has delivered others before mine finally arrived.
The fury stems from an ad with the tagline "Join the fight against overprices images!", which is purportedly akin to Modern Postcard's promotional campaign, which included the tagline "Skip the expensive photo shoot...", and which I wrote about back in August (Skip the expensive photo shoot..." - What the #%^@ !").
I just don't see the comparison to Modern Postcard as an apples to apples comparison. When I see PDN write articles talking about how great RF/Microstock is, and how everyone should jump on the bandwagon and sell out, well, then I'll be upset with PDN.
Let's see, someone comes to PDN, who wants to spend $7,000 (it's $3k if it's considered the Exposures area) for a 2-color ad, according to PDN's ad rates, found here. Where then, do you get your placement? Heck, buried in the back of the magazine, among the classified ads, where few people turn to. The only reason I make it to the back of the magazine is to check the last page! The ad was on page 169 of a 176-page issue.
Who did the math on this investment? $7k needs to generate 14,000 image sales in order to break even, where Fotolia earns about $0.50 per image. Further, the people - by and large - that read PDN would never submit images to Fotolia, and the well-informed photo-buyers that do read PDN certainly are well-informed enough that they're not likely to ever buy from Fotolia.
So, this is what you get when you mix a semi-struggling model, a guy that sold photofinishing solutions, a guy that was a domain-name buyer (squatter?) in the 90's, (who are billed as the photo-knowledgable ones) along with a few other hold-overs from Web 1.0. Aside from that alphabet soup that is Aiste Miseviciute,Thibaud Elziere,Oleg Tscheltzoff,Patrick Chassany,& Chad A Bridwell, you get the silliness that is, Fotolia.
Back in 2005, StockphotoTalk did an interview with the CEO, The President of the company did an interview about a year ago for one of his other startups where he's the CEO (hey, how many companies can you be CEO and President of at the same time?!?), inbetween model bookings, the "US Public Relations and Marketing Manager" is trying to remain busy at Colors Model Management with her online comp card here and at another agency, here, Their Vice President of Corporate Strategy (and also a co-founder) lists over on LinkedIn that he's CURRENTLY also the co-founder of Wixi.com, Founder & CEO of Ziki.com, co-founder and CEO of Everyfeed.com, and Director of the venture capital organization Reachtown Ventures. I'd say he is a good candidate for ADD concerns, however, who in their right mind would give a dime to someone who is con-currently a Founder/CEO/Director of so many organizations? How much strategizing can you be doing for Fotolia when you're leading so many other companies?
According to their pricing structure, you get paid in 'credits", not actual accrued dollars. Why credits? Lawfully, it's easier to take "credits" away from you after 365 days (as they say they will), if you don't use them, instead of actual currency. Further, you have to give up sale(s)/credits if you want to get paid out under 50 credits, to paypal.
Their PR firm lists them as a "case study", where they tout getting Fotolia placed at #1 for the term "photographer commission", yet, a review of Google's own marketing research about searches actually performed, there would be ZERO clicks per day for this search term. Now that's a successful case study! Further, they write " Images that do not meet Fotolia's standards of professional quality are not rejected, but offered to be posted in the websites Free Section," nice. Free photos from the rejects pile. (More about the free section here.)
The complaintants suggest PDN should be writing articles about how bad Fotolia and its ilk are for photographers/photography (they have), and how we all should cancel our subscriptions. That's just silly. I can't recall a time - ever - where subscription cancellations changed the course of a publication. Further, there are laws in place that prevent PDN from rejecting ads like this one. It's one thing to reject an ad for nudity, or racisim, or the promotion of unlawful activities. However, Fotolia's lawyers would have a field day with VNU's legal department if they had rejected this ad. So, what to do? Bury it!
Fotolia is doing all it can to.... wait, did I just say that? What with all their founders and management focused on numerous other endeavors, who's actually minding the shop? Is Fotolia just a server farm with a bunch of hard drive space and a few applications serving up images and collecting money? With supposedly upwards of 7,000 images a day coming in, who are they paying to "review" the images for acceptability? Let me rephrase...
Fotolia is running their servers, collecting images, in hopes of reaching some critical mass so that Getty, or someone else, will buy them up. Doubtful, folks. Getty has their beheamoth that is istockphoto, and they're not likely to take up Fotolia. Nor is anyone else. Their coffers are now $7k lighter, meaning their servers will hum along that much shorter a timespan when they run out of money. The only way Getty/Corbis/Jupiter/et al will snatch them up, will be in a bankruptcy/fire-sale. May that come sooner rather than later. If the "bomb" icon they use is any indication, we can only hope it comes along sooner rather than later.
In the past, PhotoPlus has had schmucks like OnRequest and DigitalVision with booth space. Does that mean we boycott that too? I think not. I have been every year for over a decade, closing on 15 years I think, and each year, I take away enough that it was well worth my while to be there. Fotolia can spend all they want on ads - it's not going to change the quality of the work they peddle, or the interest they gin up, or lack thereof.
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