in Insights, Stock Performer

A Way to Track Your iStock Views

At Stock Performer we love numbers and we keep getting asked how to track views on your files. This is not something we can track at any agency at the moment. But we have found a clever and fun way that helps you track your views on iStock and we’d like to share the trick with you.

Introducing Bit.ly
Some of you may be familiar with Bit.ly. It is a very popular service for tracking how often people click on your web links. People use it when they share web links on twitter or facebook. Bit.ly shortens the URLs to share and produces a new link which gets tracked. People then enjoy watching the stats on whether those links are clicked on or not. Bit.ly is a great service!

How can Bit.ly help us track views?
The fun thing is that Bit.ly doesn’t only track URL links to a website. It also tracks URL links to images. And that capability makes it possible to track views on iStock!

How can you track views on iStock?
As many of you probably know, iStock allows contributors to add images and links in the descriptions of their images. Many people use that to include links to other iStock images or to their iStock lightboxes. You write them in BBCode.

An example from my own portfolio would be:

[url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/12120567][img]http://www.vela-photo.com/istock/dogs.jpg[/img][/url]

which will look like this:

Let’s get a bit technical: every time a buyer opens up an iStock page with this image, the buyer’s browser makes a call to the server where that image is hosted in order to display it. This call can be rerouted via Bit.ly allowing Bit.ly to track the calls and therefore produce reports on how many times this image is displayed and viewed.

Each time this image is displayed can be counted as a view!

How do you set it up?

Open up an account on Bit.ly (its free!) and use it to create shortened links for your iStock image. In our above example we transform the image’s URL from this

http://www.vela-photo.com/istock/dogs.jpg

to this

http://bit.ly/16Cq4VM

Now all one has to do is change the BBCode above and replace the image’s URL link to this shortened Bit.ly link:

[url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/12120567][img]http://bit.ly/16Cq4VM[/img][/url]

Let’s look at an example
I’ve been tracking views on my portfolio using this method for over a year. I have the dogs image on all my dog images, so everytime one of my dog images is displayed, Bit.ly tracks a view.

This is the data Bit.ly gives me:

Bitly tracking of views

You see that my dog images (I have over 256 of them) have been viewed 2637 times since I started tracking in September 2013. The chart displays that views have been fairly stable ever since. It does not seem as if customers have lost interest!

Bit.ly also helps me identify which of the images within the lightbox has received the most views. You can see it here:

Views per File

My most viewed dog image is this one with 115 views:

The next one with 110 views is this one:

Another example
I have been tracking a lot of my lightboxes this way. For example, the following report shows the views on my “Youth” images. One of the images was selected as Free Image of the Week making views explode completely! Thanks to being on iStock’s first page, many viewers discovered this image. The report clearly shows that during the whole month of May 2014, a huge amount of views came dwarfing the display of the views on the other months.
Views on Youth

Hosting your images
You will need to host the images for this to work. You can host them on your own server or on a free hosting platform like tinypic.

Limitations
Bit.ly wasn’t designed to track views on stock images, so although it is useful, it isn’t perfect. You have to click around to get the information and not everything we would love to see is not in there. Another limitation is that it probably tracks more views than real, since a same buyer may display the images multiple times, thus assigning multiple views to the same person. So the tracking is not perfect, but its a start and it is fun!

We hope you find this trick useful and you can use it to track your image views on iStock. Add a Bit.ly image link to a set of images or even on to all your images! DeepMeta is useful for doing this efficiently.

Let us know in the comments if you have had success with this method.

We don’t track views, but we track almost everything else! Sign up to Stock Performer and see how we can help you make more money. The first month is completely free!

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