The recent news of Adobe’s acquisition of microstock company Fotolia has sent ripples throughout the photo licensing world. The software company purchased the 11 year company operating in 23 countries in 14 different language for $800 million in cash,  in return for 34 million images. While the public announcement clearly aimed at integrating it into its Creative Cloud solution boasting 3.4 million subscribers, there is much more that Adobe can do with it.

Adobe is best known for its hugely popular Photoshop product and its directly associated by-products, like Bridge or Elements. It has, in fact 62 different types of software solutions on the market today. Besides the obvious photo pros and designers it reaches via Photoshop, it actually has tentacles deeply entrenched in every possible realm of visual production, from web design to presentation, as well as video, e-learning and  e-commerce. So while it seems obvious that Fotolia could easily be integrated in the Creative Cloud offering, allowing designers to purchase photos in-software while they are in the process of creation, there is a greater opportunity beyond it.

Some of Adobe's 62 software. Each one reaches potential visual content buyers
Some of Adobe’s 62 software. Each one reaches potential visual content buyers

Adobe has an impressive suite of web design and management tool. From Muse to Dreamweaver, to the analytics suite it purchase via Omniture in 2009, it has delivered a very strong family of tools, fully integrated with its Flash and Acrobat offerings. This is millions of small to medium to large site design that are operated via adobe’s product. Web design and maintenance, especially thanks to SEO, is a constant recurring task, demanding a large renewable source of images. Fotolia’s offering would be perfect match.

With products like InDesign, vastly used in publishing ( Print and Tablet), Adobe owns a vast majority of the industry workflow and standards. Art directors and lay-out artists all over the world rely on its very familiar structure to assemble and organize the assets necessary to bring their product to life. Need a last-minute image to finish a lay out ? Here comes Fotolia.

But Adobe is not just stills like Fotolia is not just photos. With Premiere, it has captured a large segment of the video world, whether online or broadcast. As well, inserting Fotolia’s clips in their offering would make Premiere even more appealing and seamless, as editors could simply find and place a last-minute clip to tie scenes together.

 Adobe Experience Manager is an example of where Fotolia's offering could easily be integrated and reap immediate benefits
Adobe Experience Manager is an example of where Fotolia’s offering could easily be integrated and reap immediate benefits


We could go on for a while on how Adobe can insert  Fotolia to practically every software they currently license ( Presenter, E-learning, etc)  immediately reaching out to millions of consumers that currently purchase those visuals elsewhere. Since an infinitesimal amount of photographs are exclusive to a provider, especially in the microstock world, it would not disturb any of its users if they had to switch from a Shutterstock to an Adobe Fotolia, especially if the process is seamless. Being where and where the customer needs you has always been a key engine of sales growth. It is even more important in the photo licensing world.

The past has shown to Adobe that limiting Fotolia to a simple replication of what already exists in the photo licensing space is doomed to poor results. Been there, done that. Besides throwing massive marketing dollars to counter the Shutterstock’s or Getty campaigns, there is not much Adobe could offer. However, by deep linking Fotolia’s offering to every possible software it currently licensed, it can satisfy a demand even before it reaches a web search. This is where Adobe can reap massive returns from its acquisition.

Furthermore, Adobe has even more far-reaching collaboration outside of its internal products. Being the leading creative software producer, it has built thousands, if not hundreds of thousand of deep relationships with companies that purchase visual assets. The recent investment of Adobe in Livefyre is a good example: Since Livefyre is in the business of management of crowd source content for brands, it would be very easy to include Fotolia’s content as a bridge to connect UGC and semi pro visuals. Can’t find it in the crowd ? look for it in Fotolia.

Needless to say that if Adobe plays it cards well this time, it has a massive opportunity to return impressive value for its acquisition. It just needs to focus preeminently on its own protected universe so it can capture and satisfy a demand before it even reaches any of its competitors. Well executed, it could be lethal.

Author: pmelcher


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