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This article was published on December 12, 2017

The global trends in digital storytelling bringing diversity to stock content

The global trends in digital storytelling bringing diversity to stock content
Neil C. Hughes
Story by

Neil C. Hughes


Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast. Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast.

Finding the perfect stock photos from the usual suspects such as Getty Images, iStock, and Shutterstock can be notoriously tricky. The thought of wading through cliched footage of middle-aged men in white shirts shaking hands in a boardroom no longer feels fit for purpose in a digital age where diversity and authenticity is the new currency.

Many underestimate how stereotyped stock images exaggerate the misconceptions of society or even alter people’s beliefs about reality. The list of offenders include the familiar pics of women laughing alone with salad, a group of men eating a big slice of pizza or everyone’s favorite stereotype the hacker wearing a hoodie. But, is the stock industry be ripe for disruption?

Sheryl Sandburg famously made a stand against the sexist tendencies promoted in stock footage by teaming up with Getty Images to produce the Lean In Collection. The campaign featured diverse and empowered female leaders as an antidote to the traditional images promoted in the media.

However, there is a thirst for authentic footage from content creators who want to reach a diverse global audience. Stock footage platform Storyblocks is positioning itself to provide digital natives with the tools they need to tell their stories to modern audiences. But it’s the release of their 2018 Creative Trends Guide that is gaining traction for all the right reasons.

Storyblocks’ CEO, TJ Leonard revealed insights that indicate a shift in attitudes from the 64M searches and 38M downloads across their sites in the last year (365 days). The results suggest that creators are increasingly globally aware and are unwittingly creating a strong increase in demand for diverse and global content.

However, despite the recent headlines, this global mindset hasn’t bred cynicism. Creators are also embracing simpler and more uplifting designs and subjects (“essentialism,” “playful duotones,” and “junk food”). But, the most apparent trend featured in the report is the desire to use footage of real people in online content that authentically mirrors the world around them.

Creators are looking for content that tells authentic stories of people living their lives—work, play, love—the moments that make life engaging and fulfilling. The world is getting ever more diverse. As cultures blend together, content needs to follow these demographic trends. – Makana Creative Team

The data shows that there’s an increasing desire for representation (“LGBT” +782%, “diverse” +27%, and “woman” +21%) as well as for authentic, relatable subjects. ( “candid street photography” +162%, “authentic” +134%, and “real people” +58%).

After examining millions of search data points across video, images, and audio on Storyblocks platforms, the analytics team also identified a change in attitudes towards aspiration. After decades of chasing unrealistic ideals such as the jet-set lifestyles of the rich and famous, we are now retreating inwardly for inspiration.

Trends reflect changes in our day-to-day life. There is a need for authentic and real imagery, steering away from the cliches and unachievable aspirations that advertising previously focused on. People want to see people they can relate to. As our society becomes more openly diverse, content creators need to represent these communities. – Erwin De Boer, Founder & Creative Director, Reeldealfrom

Celebrity-based tv shows and magazines are being replaced by authentic content produced by people we can relate to on Instagram and You-Tube. As a result, the world of advertising and stock footage is evolving into something that is a stark contrast to trends of the last 50 years.

The world of cheesy stock footage at premium prices is starting to feel irrelevant in a world where we are all creatives. As the medium increasingly gets mocked on a regular basis from internet memes to Hollywood movies, maybe the stock media industry really is ripe for disruption.

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