CLSI Posted September 18, 2013 Share Posted September 18, 2013 Let's get this out of the way first. There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Ha ha, it's funny because it's true. Also, yes, I am aware that the only statistic that really matters is the bottom line, the size of the check (cheque), the direct deposit, the number and size of the sales, what have you. Unfortunately, many of us don't get sales frequently enough to have them be statistically significant, and there's often such a long delay between anything that happens on the website (a view, a zoom, a change in rank, a change in the website) and the sales that may or may not result that it's nearly impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions on the basis of sales information, at least not until several months after the fact. This thread is for those of us who actually enjoy looking for meaning in numbers. It is very unlikely to make anyone a better photographer or otherwise help to boost anyone's bottom line. In fact, to the extent that time spent reading this thread could otherwise be spent taking, processing, uploading, and keywording photos, it's more likely to have the opposite effect. All of which is to say, If you have a knee-jerk negative reaction to numbers in general and statistics in particular, there's no need to post about that here. Please feel free to move along to another thread; let us nerds wallow in our nerdity. That said, being the nerd that I am, I have been keeping track of some Alamy statistics for quite a while now, and I thought it might be fun to share some of my findings. Initially, I did this in response to a heartbreaking drop in everything (views, zooms, and sales) for me around July 2010, and I wanted to figure out if it was just me, or if Alamy in general was seeing a similar slowdown. At the time, the best indicator I could find for customer activity was the number of pages of search terms that appeared in All of Alamy when no term was entered in the search box (essentially, this is what you see when you first open All of Alamy). I went back and determined this for 30-day periods starting in August 2009 (the earliest available month in AoA at the time), and I have kept this up since. Here's a graph of the results: A couple of things jump out right away: First, December is clearly and consistently a slow month, and second, the overall trend has been upwards. (It became clear to me right away that I couldn't attribute my own drop in activity to any corresponding drop in Alamy activity more generally. My best guess now is that my own small collection--only about 300 images at the time--was of interest to only a handful of customers, one or two of whom retired or moved on to other jobs/projects in early 2010.) Less obvious, but I believe (without actually having crunched the numbers) statistically significant, is an increase in activity following the launch of the new website in March. It's a little hard to tell for sure, because the overall trend is upward, and I'll admit I'm not quite nerdy enough to know which statistical tools could determine whether the apparent effect is real or not, but April, May, June, and July were all far ahead of any month that came before. August saw a slip back towards a number that might have been expected had there been no new website activity. What will September bring? Stay tooned... At this point, it's fair to ask how good a measure of customer activity the "number of pages in AoA" is. After all, a thousand customers all searching for the identical search term will generate only a single line in AoA. More significantly, since we don't know how the folks at Alamy determine whose searches get included in AoA, the overall trend could conceivably just represent more customers being arbitrarily added to the list. A recent comment in this forum by someone official at Alamy suggests, though, that they define this set of customers in a way that will give meaningful statistics; in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I don't see that we have much choice but to take their word for it. As for customers coincidentally all searching on identical terms, I see no reason to expect this to happen more often some months than others. It may not be perfect, but I suspect Number of Pages in AoA is generally a reasonable proxy for customer activity. Assuming that more searches lead to more sales, then, the pie is growing. Is your piece of the pie growing along with it? With the 40 millionth image in mind, it's worth taking a look at the number of images at Alamy over (roughly) the same period: I didn't start keeping track of this until relatively recently, but I've determined that there were 17 million images in January 2010, and we hit 20 million in October of that year. I've interpolated the rest of the data for 2010, assuming roughly linear growth. Since 2011, the total number of images at Alamy has appeared on the front page (I used the Wayback Machine to dig up some of the earlier numbers). The pie may be increasing, but the number of images competing for a piece of it is as well. To determine which is growing faster, we can look at the ratio of the number of images to the number of searches for each month. There are 20 searches to a page in AoA, so I multiplied the number of pages by 20 to get the total number of search terms for each month, and then divided the total number of images by that number to get the following graph: From the point of view of an image sitting around hoping to be licensed, UP on this graph represents more competition per search term, and DOWN (obviously) less. Ignoring those December spikes (fewer searches increases the competition for each search), it looks like the situation was pretty stable--perhaps even improving--for much of 2010, then rose gradually, and has more or less stabilized again since September of last year (around the time the new buttons were introduced--coincidence?). In general, the number of images appears to have risen faster than customer activity, confirming (as if we needed confirmation) that we're in a Red Queen situation: we photographers need to keep running just to stay in place. And of course this doesn't take into account the number of images available from sources other than Alamy. I recently learned (thanks to another member of this forum) that by limiting AoA to a week instead of a month it's possible to download data as an Excel file (I guess a month's worth of data is just too much to handle), so I've been keeping track of UCO, zooms, views, and even sales data more recently, but I think this post is already more than long enough. Any thoughts? Anyone see patterns or trends that I'm missing? David Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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