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February 2020 Update

Howdy,

With an average life expectancy of circa 80 years in the US & the UK, we get to experience 29th February only 20 times (it’s my 10th, what about you?)

So instead of my standard format updates, on this special day, I thought I’d spice things up a bit (and yes, I do realise that most of you think of something very different when you receive an email suggesting to “spice things up”).

I am fascinated by the visual content industry! 

And not just because this same average American or fellow Briton spends 10 years of their 80-year life with both eyes and two thumbs glued to their phones looking at photos and videos on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, etc and 13 more years – with one eye glued to their TV and the other one to their phone. 

No. 

The main reason I’m so fascinated by our industry is because of the scale and the velocity of tectonic shifts that the visual content ecosystem has experienced over the past 100 years… and I’m ever more excited by the new major shift that is about to happen in it in the next few years.  

But first things first.

Your attention is the new oil 

and there is a gold rush to grab your attention. It just so happens that amazing imagery (photo, video, AR & VR) is the best way to attract it! 

Just like with every “gold rush”, there are two ways to monetize your attention: 

  • dig for gold (i.e. create and sell content);
  • sell picks & shovels (i.e. provide tools and services for content creators).

At Splento we sell picks and shovels by helping businesses create, distribute, consume and analyze amazing photography & videography faster, cheaper, easier. 

And some of the most successful companies and products of the past decade were also built by selling picks & shovels:

  • Instagram – a social platform for sharing images. 
  • iPhone – a tool for taking, editing and viewing amazing imagery. 
  • Netflix – initially providing the infrastructure for video on demand, but now creating the content itself.

But I’m putting the case study cart in front of the full story horse…

The point of this email is to tell you a story of the tectonic shifts in the industry, not handpick and list hundreds of examples to support a view that the visual content industry is the next hot space. 

A Brief History of the Great War for Your Attention, Vol. 1

The Rise (and No Fall) of Imagery in the War for Your Attention

1 Trillion+ images are taken every year. And that number is growing fast. 

It did not happen overnight. Four distinct shifts in the past 100 years took place in the visual content industry and many more will happen in the years to come. 

The Good Old Days Period: 1900-1950 

  • Biggest Winner: Kodak
  • Biggest Loser: Portrait painters  
  • Type: Business to Consumer
  • Images per Year: Millions

The rise of the visual content industry started with freelance photographers selling photos to families and individuals (B2C: one-man-band businesses selling to consumers). Companies like Kodak owned this space, because they controlled the entire content creation value-add chain, from camera manufacturing to distribution and content consumption (film and printed photos).   

The Advertising and Marketing Period: 1950-1990 

  • Biggest Winner: Still the likes of Kodak
  • Biggest Loser: Newspapers 
  • Type: Business to Consumer, Business to Business 
  • Images per Year: Tens of Millions

In the mid-last century businesses learned to appreciate the power of amazing imagery in their quest for your attention and images for magazines, media, art, product catalogues and ads have become the next big thing. 

Photography studios and production companies have started appearing to service a growing appetite from businesses for visual content. 

The Digital Camera Period: 1990-2007

  • Biggest Winner: Canon, Nikon, Sony
  • Biggest Loser: Kodak
  • Type: Business to Consumer, Business to Business, Consumer to Consumer
  • Images per Year: Hundreds of Millions

With the advent of digital cameras, the consumer-to-consumer market really took off. Now, not just professionals and camera enthusiasts could operate a camera – every dad in the West could afford a camera and could actually operate one. 

You still needed to edit and print those photos (so the likes of Adobe, Photobox and others in the content consumption space grew on the back of this wave), but digital cameras – not smartphones – is what served as the initial dose of steroids for the consumers-to-consumer mass market photography revolution.

The Smartphone Period: 2007-2020

  • Biggest Winner: Apple, Facebook, Netflix 
  • Biggest Loser: Canon, Nikon, Sony
  • Type: Business to Consumer, Business to Business, Consumer to Consumer, Consumer to Business
  • Images per Year: Hundreds of Billions

Smartphones have changed everything. Now not only the dad, but the entire family could take photos. Furthermore, you no longer needed to edit or print anything – even a two-year-old and 82-year old had an easy way to view those photos. Using the same phones they took photos and videos with. 

Smartphone manufacturers cornered the entire supply chain, from creation to viewing in the consumer-to-consumer market (you can see a graphic representation of this shift on our blog). The likes of Instagram and TikTok cornered the content consumption space.

As expected, smartphones did also make small inroads into the B2B market, by enabling Consumers to sell directly to Businesses (User Generated Content Marketplaces), but that’s not where it gets really interesting. 

 

 

Several other major social, economic and technological changes happened in 2018-2019, that have paved the road for another major revolution in our industry to happen in the next 1-3 years… 

But it’s a story for another day. Shall we touch base on 29 February 2024? 

Or if you want to hear more, next time you are in Soho, stop by 🙂 

With best wishes,

 

Roman