VideoBlocks, Fast Becoming the Largest Purveyor of Stock Video, Crunches the Numbers for the First Time

We consume hundreds of images every day and, as content creators, make many more, each one representative of continually shifting tastes, social mores and demographics. But exactly how is broadcast, documentary, advertising and corporate media being changed by evolving social and technology trends? Stock footage library and reseller VideoBlocks recently shared some answers by tracking how its users searched for and downloaded content for an entire year.

The sheer volume of the VideoBlocks collection has been steadily increasing since its founding in 2009. But after launching a new user marketplace in January 2015, VideoBlocks saw its stock footage content, and the resulting traffic and searches, skyrocket. With three million videos in its vaults by the end of 2016, two-thirds of which were uploaded last year alone, the company decided to home in on the 56 million unique searches from its marketplace and membership libraries and found a clear picture of what content creators are looking for right now, as well as trends driving those searches into 2017.  

"Because of the unlimited download model of our membership plans we've become the world's largest distributor of stock video," VideoBlocks CEO T.J. Leonard told StudioDaily. "We had nearly 15 million downloads of video in 2016. We knew that kind of volume of data could help us better curate collections to user demand, and the first result of what we learned was the launch of our Authentic Collection in September." That collection of diverse, unstudied and vibrant real-life images was a hit with users, Leonard adds, prompting the company to dig even deeper into related topics, as well as to look broadly across perennial search favorites driven by evolving camera technology. 

In its very first year-end report, which you can view here, VideoBlocks found that searches for family-themed video were up by 336%, those celebrating the LGBT community and issues up by 317%, and searches for footage representing diversity up by 172%. "We didn't build a business just to serve professional producers and larger studios," says Leonard. "Digital marketers and independent filmmakers are also a big part of our membership, and we wanted to pull something together that spoke to that full range of creators."

Similarly, VideoBlocks found that our far-reaching reliance on social media, and the unvarnished POV it promotes, drove searches for topics related to selfies (up 270%), smartphones (up 207%), mobile (up 140%) and iPhone (up 130%).


But emerging technology trends were by far the biggest drivers of footage searches among users. VideoBlocks saw the interest in first-person and spherical GoPro footage, particularly of motocross and other track driving events, shoot up by an astonishing 1253%. Leonard said he expects the demand for "hyper-realistic" footage to increase. Similarly, searches for VR and 360-degree footage were up by 814% overall, most often tagged with related searches for "relaxation," "time-lapse," "Los Angeles," "Times Square," and "aerial." As a result, Leonard says interest in GoPro 360 capture should accelerate rapidly this year as well.

Drone 2 no watermark

When the FAA's complex regulations for shooting via drones went into effect in late August, VideoBlocks searches for drone footage and related terms like "city," "landscape," "desert," and "flying," also jumped dramatically, topping out at a 712% increase over the previous year.

And where in the world did all these searches originate? At the top of global searches, notably from East and Central Asia, was a 500% increase from Korea, a 319% increase from Taiwan and a 286% increase from Russia. Searches from Germany also increased by 149% and from Italy by 145%.

"The strongest indicator of how strong and sophisticated a particular international video market is tends to be Internet penetration," says Leonard. "In that way, a lot of developed Asia and Western Europe have jumped in head first to the online video world, especially when it comes to downloading high-resolution files like ours. And Russia is both a large market and a topical one, so we're not surprised by those numbers either."