Footage.net’s David Seevers Interview: “Making the world’s best stock, news and archival footage searchable from a single site”

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Footage.net is dedicated to making the world’s best stock, news and archival footage searchable from a single site, and to giving footage users the tools they need to discover and license the most relevant footage for their particular needs.

David Seevers, Chief Marketing Officer and footage industry veteran shared his company’s vision and operations in our recent conversation.

We also discussed his Takeaways on how the industry is coping with the COVID epidemic.


What do you do at Footage.net?

As CMO, I’m involved in every aspect of the business outside of the technical programming of the Footage.net site.

I work with our existing footage partners, bring on new partners and oversee all our marketing and outreach efforts. I’m based in San Francisco, where I have lived since 2005.

What did you do before?

I’ve worked in and around the footage business since the early nineties. I was the founding director of ABCNEWS VideoSource, where I worked until 2004.

I was a founding member of ACSIL, which is now part of the DMLA. In partnership with ACSIL, I produced the ACSIL Global Survey of Stock Footage Companies (AGS) series. We published our first AGS report in 2007, and our most recent in 2019. These reports are available through my website, thrivingarchives.com.  I started my career and Worldwide Television News, which became part of AP in 1999. I am currently on the executive board of FOCAL.

What’s Footage.net’s mission?

Our goal is to make the world’s best stock, news and archival footage searchable from a single site, and to give footage users the tools they need to discover and license the most relevant footage for their particular needs. And we are always working toward that.

More broadly, we believe that footage archives are critical repositories of our shared history and visual memory and should be preserved for future generations, and helping archives of all shapes and sizes grow their licensing businesses is one way to do that.

What are examples of notable projects and clients?

We work with both large, globally known providers like ABC News VideoSource, AFP, AP Archive, CNN Collection, Getty Images, NBC News Archives and INA, as well as many independent, specialist footage houses like Bridgeman Images, British Pathe, CriticalPast, Global ImageWorks, Historic Footage, Reelin’ in the Years, Science Photo Library, Sherman Grinberg Film Library and WPA Film Library.

CNN became a Footage.net search partner last year, and we announced in March of this year that they had added 950,000 screening clips to our site, which was huge for us.

Stand at NAB

How is the footage business adapting in the COVID economy? 

I think there is a case for cautious optimism.

We did a survey of footage companies in April to see how the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting their businesses, and, at this stage, it looks like most footage companies, at least in our sample group, have been able to maintain their essential business operations and continue delivering footage to their customers. They’ve adapted to the exigencies of working remotely, which is indicative of how much progress has been made over the last five years in digitization. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the footage business over the last few months, and it seems like their individual experiences are pretty much in line with our findings.

Demand for footage seems to be holding up, and in some cases increasing. Producers cannot work on location at the moment, so archivally-based programs are an obvious alternative.

We have also been keeping a very close eye on user traffic on our site, and in many key areas, including average monthly sessions, searches, records viewed and videos viewed, we’ve seen substantial increases.

All that said, time will tell how much the overall downturn in the economy, and especially the advertising economy, will affect production budgets and the funds available for license fees.

David Seevers, CMO with General Manager Domenick Propati

When was company founded?

Footage.net has been around since 1996. Domenick Propati, our General Manager, bought the company in 2007. I came onboard as CMO in 2012 after consulting for the company for several years.

How has it evolved?

The first big shift for us was the addition of clips, which we did back in 2010. Prior to that the site was all text data, which was not uncommon for footage sites at that time, but obviously needed to change. We expanded our directory, for both archives and researchers, which we offer as a free service. We began publishing a monthly newsletter and started getting more and more involved in the archive community, sponsoring events and supporting organizations like ACSIL, FOCAL and AMCUP. We began a lot of outreach work to broaden both our user base and our partner base, and made it much simpler for users to link from clips on our site to the point-of-sale on our partners’ sites.

What is the current scale of the company?

We are a small team. In addition to Domenick Propati and myself, we have three other people who work mainly on the site itself.

Screenshot of Footage.net home page

How does Footage.net provide value to clients?

The footage research process can be overwhelming, especially for less experienced users. There are a lot of footage companies spread out across the world, and conducting research at each one individually can be very time-consuming. It’s hard to know where to begin.

So, for our users, we streamline the footage research process by offering a consolidated search experience across multiple archives. By bringing together so many footage collections and making them searchable from a single site, we show our users a range of footage options for a particular search and introduce them to providers they might not have known about otherwise. It’s a lot faster than going from site to site.

All the footage on our site is available for licensing, and all the copyright owners are clearly identified, which is not the case on a platform like YouTube, which a lot of people use to find news and archival footage, but which can lead to a lot of clearance headaches.

Users also love our Zap email service. It makes it easy to send footage requests to our full list of partners. It’s a great way to begin a footage search project and an invaluable tool for finding really specific, hard-to-find footage.

For our archive partners, we are a pathway into their collections and a source of new opportunities. We make their footage more discoverable; we make their brands more visible; and we send them a steady stream of new leads.

And because we have a large user base in the United States, we are conduit for international archives to reach US-based footage customers, and for US-based footage users to access international archives.

Who uses Footage.net?

A full range of production professionals use the site, including documentary filmmakers, television producers, ad agencies, corporate producers. You name it. Footage researchers use us very frequently. I would say that we lean heavily toward the documentary/non-fiction world, which makes sense because we have so much news and historical content on the site.

The site has been in operation for 24 years, so we have an established user base that has been active on the site for many years. We also draw in a lot of new users, mainly through Google searches. And since we have been around for a long time and are well known in the industry, we benefit from strong word-of-mouth, as well.

What is the Research process?

There are two main options:

  • The first is to search our global database and see results from all our partners.
  • The second is to use our Zap email to send your footage request to our full list of partners.

In both cases, once the user and partner are in touch, we get out of the way and let them interact directly, which seems to work very well.

What is your licensing / billing process?

Once a user finds a clip on Footage.net, they can click on a link that takes them to the page on our partners’ sites where they can license the footage. For partners that are not set up for e-commerce, we give the user an info request form that embeds all the information about the clip, and they can just click send and it goes to the footage company and they can begin the licensing process directly.

Do you take a cut of the license fee?

No. We see ourselves more as an intermediary than a marketplace. We don’t rep our partner’s footage, so they keep 100% of whatever license fees they charge to the customer. We charge our partners a yearly fee to be on the platform. Our service is free to the users.

How do your partners get their data onto your platform?

We can intake data in two ways.

  • The first is to have the partner archive export their data and send it to us for upload.
  • The second, which is becoming more popular, is to take in the data through an API.

In both cases, if there is a clip associated with a specific record, we access it remotely from our partners’ sites.

Are you planning new services?

Our main project right now is to build on our foundation of primary services and make them all work better. We’re always adding new collections and more footage to the site. We are especially strong in news and archival, and want to become better known in other categories.

As mentioned, we publish a monthly newsletter, which has become more of a vehicle for industry news. We’re always looking to expand both the content and our readership, and we want to do that organically.

Our directories have a lot of promise and get a lot use We are working on ideas to make the specific listings more content-rich and networked.

And we are always looking for new ways to help users grow their archival skillset and knowledge. We think that helps everyone in archival production community.


Case Studies

Footage.net is sponsoring a series of our popular and unique Case Studies of documentary productions that rely on the archive.

They serve as a valuable roadmap for documentary producers:

  • Watch out for our upcoming Footage.net-sponsored Case Studies
  • Read more about my Case Studies here.

Archives Bridge the Gap as “Content Desert” Looms”