Get To Know: Keedup Keywording Services

Name: Kevin Townsend
Company: Keedup
Position: CEO

Explain KeedUp in a sentence.
Keedup is the keywording company you want for a quality job at moderate prices, with a can-do attitude.

When did you start the company?
Keedup, as a standalone company, was started in 2008, but we have been keywording in total for more than five years.
What were you doing before that?
Before that we were syndicating celebrity, news and stock images within New Zealand, representing major foreign suppliers such as Gamma, Explorer, Splash and Express Newspapers, plus local photographers.
Where are you based?
Our office is in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand used to have a reputation as a laid back rural backwater, albeit with the best rugby team in the world. Today we have labour and commercial laws which are way ahead of the rest of the world, minimal bureaucracy, and have developed a reputation for technical innovation which has produced movies such as the Lord of the Rings and won the America’s Cup.
How long has the company been keywording?
As Keedup for about two years, three years more while part of More Images.
How many people in the office?
Our staff varies depending on demand, time of year and day. You are looking at 15-30 people.
Explain a typical Monday morning in the office.
Keywording 24/7 is a bit like the Sorcerers Apprentice (you know, the Mickey Mouse cartoon where the broomsticks carrying water keep coming and coming) so staying organised at all times is imperative or you simply get swamped. Our typical Monday starts at midnight with celebrity keywording staff working through the night until 8am when handover occurs and stock keywording begins. Monday morning is the time that we go through quality control reports and set up any training or reminders to be given to keyworders. We also discuss improvement to our various vocabularies, which is an ongoing project of improvement. In our Monday production meeting we are assessing incoming batches from stock clients and matching those with the appropriate staffing levels.
How do you find natural keywording staff?
Finding good keyworders is a difficult job as it’s not the sort of job people are told about on ‘Careers Day’ at school. We find most of our staff either at university or amongst recent graduates (normally with communications/journalism degrees) using internet advertising. The typical keyworder has trained as a journalist, has a high level of English and knows a lot about the world in general. 98% of the people who apply to work for us are rejected at the CV stage, then applicants have to go through rigorous testing of spelling, punctuation, grammar, typing, celebrity knowledge, general knowledge, plus a practical keywording exercise. We are also pedantic about reference checks.
Who do you keyword for?
We keyword for some of the biggest names in the stock, video and celebrity photo business, as well as charities and online retailers. Clients have included Image Source, WOW Stock Footage, Sony Entertainment, NBC Universal, the Toronto Star, Greenpeace New Zealand and Noel Leeming Appliances
Why should I use a specialist keywording company? – It sounds expensive.
There’s a simple reason for using specialist keywording services, the market leaders do. If you want to compete with, supply or emulate what is the market standard then you need people to be keywording your images and video who have systems, experience and expertise. As for the expense, how much is a bad job worth? A lot less than is paid for people to do keywording in amongst other jobs, or on a temporary, casual or amateur basis. If you wouldn’t get your sales manager to do your accounts, why would you get him or her to do your keywording? Helping customers find images is way too important to get wrong.
How do I know my keywording needs improving?
Try comparing what you do, with what the market leaders do. Have a look at the quantity, relevance and depth of keywording. If nothing is obvious, but you still have concerns, we can do a qualitative analysis for you, looking at things such as consistency, accuracy, over-keywording and much more. One of the biggest problems is a lack of conceptual keywords, or keywords so general and bland that they are of minimal use to researchers.
You say you are keywording 24/7 who needs that?
Celebrity and news photo agencies in particular often have offices in the US and UK. With events happening globally you need to get images to market sooner rather than later. Waiting for the office to open doesn’t cut it.
I have a library of 10,000 sports related images from one photographer scanned and ready to upload, I just need them keyworded, what’s next?
Get in touch and talk over your requirements. We see organising keywording as a process – it’s not like buying a bottle of milk. If you don’t put the effort in to understand the subtleties of what is needed then the job will be less than the best. Be wary of companies which just want to send you a quote. They probably keyword everyone the same: once over lightly.
What 5 requirements do you need from me to get started on my 10,000 images.
1. Information on which companies you are submitting images to, if any (eg Getty, Corbis, Alamy), 2. Estimates of the volume of work, 3. Samples of the images or videos, 4. Estimates of how quickly the images need to be processed, 5. Any existing keywording guidelines and/or vocabularies you are working with.
How long will this take?
This very much depends on how clear the client is on what they want. Keywording for experienced stock clients can be sorted out in a day or two, or if large systems need to be put in place to deal with enormous numbers of images, or vocabularies need to be created, then you could be looking at a few weeks or even months. Most new clients are on board within a week.
How much will it cost me?
This depends on the type and depth of keywording required. A typical price for stock keywording is around US$1 or so, although we offer prices well below that for some standards, and more for complicated work. The key in assessing pricing is value for money. The budget end of the market exists for those who don’t mind bland generic words. We’ve also seen crazy prices well over $2 an image for no discernible benefit.
How much work do I need to do?
The more work you do in preparing the metadata, such as locations, captions, names of species etc the smoother everything will run, the better the keywording and the cheaper the price. For most clients the amount of work they physically have to do is minimal.
Will I be assigned an account manager for my keywords?
There is always someone who will be assigned to you and will iron out any problems. We have managers who deal with broad categories of image/video type, plus individual staff or groups of staff to deal specifically with large-volume clients.
Are you able to keyword a large image archive over time to fit with my cash flow?
We are happy to look at discount rates for large archives, swapping time for money. The longer we get to return the images, the easier it is for us to sharpen the pricing pencil.
How do I get images to you?
You can send on hard drive, by DVD/CD or as most do, via FTP.
How many celebrity images can you keyword in 8 hours?
How many have you got? Depending on existing staffing on any given day we can cope with a few thousand, but we can gear up to many more.
Is there a Guinness World Record for the fastest keyworder?
In 2003 Toxteth O’Grady keyworded 451 images to the Getty submission standard in 5 minutes – only kidding. We don’t know of any record, but perhaps we should try to come up with one.
What has been your most challenging set of images so far?
Believe it or not, the most difficult set was of images with hardly any detail. The client had a series of abstract illustrations which presumably conjured up concepts and emotions. Keywording those sometimes consisted of sitting for several minutes trying to get the necessary inspiration about what the illustrator was driving at.
Give me an example of a ‘badly’ keyworded image/s.
The worst keyworded images are those without any, or those which seem to refer to a completely different image. We’ve had trouble digging out really interesting examples, although we did find these great captions which were sent to us by a company whose first language wasn’t English. Meet ‘the smiling cows’, and ‘the eggs that cuddled’.
keedupcow.jpg keedupeggs.jpg
What is a tricky subject to keyword?
Any specialist subject where the metadata supplied is inadequate. We’ve keyworded science, art, scenic, news, wildlife, you name it. As long as our staff don’t have to be mind readers, it can be done.
What’s the dream keywording assignment?
The next one we get.
Is less really more (in keywording images) considering the growth of RF and Microstock requirements?
If you take less is more to the ultimate extreme then an image with one keyword would be ideal, so that in itself isn’t the answer. The trick is to have enough keywords so that they match possibilities in researcher’ heads, but not so many that they turn into keywording spam. Getting the essence of the image, and what makes it different from other ones, is the key.
How do you keep up to date with keywording and search engine requirements?
We’re in regular contact with the likes of Getty Images and Alamy, plus spend a lot of time working with individual customers. Keywording and search engine requirements tend to be individual to the clients concerned, so experience with a large number of customers helps tremendously.
Do you have a library of brainy reference books to gain keyword inspiration from or do you rely on the web and common sense?
Our keywords come for the main part from vocabularies we have developed through a mixture of on-the-job experience and research. Pretty much all extra research on things such as actors’ names, species names, locations and so on are done on the internet. Using references books is generally far too slow.
Do you run a blog?
Because there was nothing else, and keywording was an important but neglected subject, we started The emphasis is on helping people understand the issues that arise when doing keywording and the benefits of keywording itself. The most popular posts come under the category ‘avoiding pitfalls’.
Who should I contact to get started?
Suzie Espie looks after all new business. Email her at [email protected], or if you want to use our quote request form, go here:
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Posted by Will Carleton
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