Bleeding-Edge Artificial Intelligence Sets to Upraise Stock Media

Bleeding-Edge Artificial Intelligence Sets to Upraise Stock Media

Might an AI visual search engine revitalize the industry as a whole?

Ido Lechner, Home Editor
  • 26 february 2016

With advancements in Internet accessibility and the explosion of social media, the rise in video production is unheralded. Brands looking to stay on top are expected to churn out content ferociously while still ensuring top-notch quality, which is why many of them turn to stock footage expert Pond5 for ingredients to enrich their assets.

On the seller’s side of things, the company is looking to alleviate the burden and guesswork of pricing a video (the company lets its users set their own rates) and tagging it so it surfaces in searches appropriately. With the goal of making Pond5 the most intuitive platform one can use, the company is proud to announce NextSense, an AI feature that autotags content via image recognition software, analyzing and generating the best tags in any scenario. By revamping the site with the inclusion of this tech, the company will magnetize its sellers’ videos, upping their revenue while simultaneously pairing buyers with the content they’re looking for.


Searching for ways to enhance the experience of finding and integrating external content, an otherwise tedious and time-consuming process, this enterprise wants to ‘empower content creators to take their storytelling to the next level.’

While you may not have heard of it yet, Pond5 is home to the world’s largest collection of royalty free HD 4k video clips, as well as millions of templates, motion graphics, music, sound effects, photos and so forth. As a global community for buying and selling rich media assets, the company prides itself on its 4.7 million clip database, alongside the sweet payout its sellers receive: the top five just made a combined sum of over $500,000 USD last year.

Servicing all tiers of creators, from starting photographers and videographers to the likes of Uber, The Onion, ESPN, Sandwich Video and Macklemore, 2016 is looking to be an exciting year with the enterprise’s rebranding efforts to include a membership program and the launch of a first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence technology platform.

Founded in 2006, the company took a risk to differentiate itself from stock media industry leaders such as Shutterstock and Getty Images by focusing on a foreign strategy at the time: video. Since then, the enterprise has ceaselessly innovated as a means of isolating itself from competition, warding off so-called ‘stock photo/video killers’ and pushing the boundaries of the industry altogether through a close relationship with emerging technology.

We got a chance to speak with Pond5’s co-CEO and CMO Ryan Scott to discuss the direction of the company and its game plan for the near future.

“Video is one of the most important assets in telling a story,” opens Scott in our conversation. “[Here at Pond5] we’re grounded in a very customer-centric approach—our research team constantly dissects things like optimal screen sizes, tools that our customers are using, the searchability of videos and so forth so media companies and content creators can get their hands on the correct tools they need, exactly when they need it.”

On the other side of the ecosystem, Pond5 is rolling out a feature called ‘Visual Discover’ which plays on the NextSense tactic by anticipating what a user wants to see based on key words, visual similarity and trends from the individual and community at large. Through objective analysis and ethnographic research seeking to trace the patterns of how creators work, the company has effectively produced a credible technology in the backend of the site which allows users to go through it swiftly and in a manner that’s conducive to their work. The resulting platform is frictionless both for buyers and sellers and has absolutely no learning curve.


“Say I’m looking for a tiger, a rather general input which loads hundreds if not thousands of clips as you can imagine,” says Scott. “Well, with Visual Discover, once I’ve identified a clip I like, I can then focus on [subtleties like] angles, lighting, backgrounds and so on.”

The most critical part of the content creation journey for purchasers is the search experience states Scott. By leveraging the power of neural networks for NextSense and certain branches of AI, such as deep learning, for Visual Discovery, Pond5 heeds the call for a lightning fast service for time-starved creative professionals on a budget.

“The reason we decided to develop this software in the first place was because we recognized a problem in the industry which was its slowing track for innovation. Compared with spaces like the Internet of Things, we felt like the stock photo/video industry was losing its glamour. We wanted to see if there’s a correlation between what people buy and when they buy it, and following six months of meticulous research on buyer behavior and trends in the market, we concluded ‘yes, a linkage absolutely exists!”

With more than 20 percent of its entire user base opting to work exclusively with Pond5 as a sole partner or provider, no one would be surprised if those figures were to rise in the coming months. In addition to the company’s soon-to-launch technological offerings, it’s also implementing affordable subscription plans which will greatly lower the price of its content.

Memberships will roll out in two tiers explains Scott, the first being the ‘pro’ membership and second dubbed ‘premium.’ With pro, users will get five downloads per month at the cost of $49 USD a month or an even lower rate of $349 USD per year. Similarly, premium members will get 10 downloads a month for $89 USD, or $599 a year with access to an 200,000 videos highly curated for breadth and depth. For a limited time only, these two offerings will be available at a 50 percent discounted rate.

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With a proven track record for connecting media buyers to over 40,000 artists across 150 plus countries, NextSense and Visual Discovery will streamline the process by making the practice of finding appropriate clips quicker and more accurate. Combined with the new membership models, it’ll also be cheaper.

“We believe that good UX gets rewarded—if you’re using a critical eye, you always have to up the bar. With our cutting edge of AI, subscription and full on rebrand, we believe we’re setting a new mark on the industry.”


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