What do you get when you combine Flickr, iStockPhoto, Shutterfly and Google AdWords? Photrade, a new photo sharing site that moved from beta to launch yesterday. Photrade describes itself as “. . . the first free one-stop consumer Web site where photographers can store, organize, share, protect and make money from their photos.” They also have introduced a new revenue model in which contextual ads are placed in photos, with the photographer getting a share of the revenue.
Photographers who upload their images to Photrade can make them available for licensing or sell them as prints and other photo products. Photrade also attempts to protect unauthorized use of images through custom watermarking and services that help find images that are being used without permission on the Web.
The most interesting aspect of the service is what they call their Adcosystem. Photrade describe it this way: “With this system, Photrade puts a highly contextually targeted ad in each photo when it is shared online, and that ad revenue is shared with the photographer. The ad-supported photos are then free to use by bloggers and publishers with the photographer getting paid for every click.”
The idea is that Web publishers can use the images free of charge but the images come with their own ads. If someone views the ad on the publisher’s site, the photographer shares in the revenue produced by that ad.
It’s impossible to predict if this will translate into meaningful revenue for more than a few photographers. But you have to give Photrade credit for their innovative thinking. Most stock agencies license images to be used in ads, or in editorial products supported by ads. In either case, advertising budgets ultimately pay for the photography. Photrade cuts out the middle-man, so to speak, by providing images already supported by ads. At least in theory, publishers are more likely to use images from Photrade because they can do so at no cost.
Since Photrade caters to both professional photographers and hobbyists, it’s not likely that this is the answer to the challenging environment currently faced by photographers. But the traditional market for stock photography is broken and can’t be repaired. If there’s any hope for professionals to recapture the revenue lost to microstock, what’s required are new business models as innovative as this one.
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