VisualSteam Announces the Results of its 8th Annual Survey of Creative Pros: Visual Content & Licensing

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“Free” content soars as 4 of the top10 favorite destinations behind, Getty Images and Shutterstock, provide CC0 content”

Budgets are not keeping pace. In fact, only 20% of creatives expect their visual content budgets to increase in the coming year.

VisualSteam announces the release of its 8th Annual Survey of Creative Pros: Visual Content.

The survey is sent to over twenty-five thousand creative pros, including creative directors, art directors, publishers, photo editors, graphic designers and marketing professionals.

As the quantity of visual assets needed increases exponentially (for images, video, illustrations), budgets are expected to remain flat putting increased pressure on price. Four companies that provide free content have jumped into the top 10 list of favorite resources. These include Envato Elements ( which offers a “fremium” subscription service; Canva ( owned Pexels and Pixabay, and Unsplash (, which was just announced as having done a deal to be acquired by Getty Images.

Creative professionals say that the number of images needed to support digital marketing, social media, and online publishing is skyrocketing. Traditional uses also need larger numbers of images because of the many markets and channels that need to be supported. One agency creative said that the “number of images required for one product can be insane - upwards of 250. Now multiply that by the number of products, product variations, markets and channels.”

"Budgets are not keeping pace. In fact, only 20% of creatives expect their content budgets to increase in the coming year" says Leslie Hughes, VisualSteam's founder. "With this increased price pressure, more creatives are turning to free (CC0) content." 60% of creatives this year said they are now using free content in their projects. The free (CC0) license was second only to the traditional Royalty Free license offered by Getty ( and Shutterstock (

More new competition for traditional content providers is the burgeoning content-on-demand market with companies like Soona ( Soona offers custom, branded, on-demand still photos or motion video to users for $39 and $93 per asset, respectively, completed and available in 24 hours.

This year’s survey is over 40 pages and loaded with information on content, licensing, uses, purchase factors and more. We always include a list of the top-of-mind, favorite resources and first-stop, go-to providers. This report is appropriate for creators and producers, distributors and content licensing companies; anyone interested in visual media.

To request a copy of this year’s survey, please email sales(at)visualsteam(dot)com. For more information about VisualSteam, please go to, or email info(at)visualsteam(dot)com.

VisualSteam wants to recognize and thank the sponsors of this year’s survey: Envato Elements ( and iSPY Visuals (

About Visual Steam
VisualSteam ( is a marketing services organization that specializes in digital transformation and visual content markets. We work with producers, creators, distributors and buyers to help them better understand and respond to market forces.

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