WTF is Stock Video? A Beginners’ Guide

April 2024
April 2024

John Ashbrook

I'm a Senior Writer. I put words together to create sentences. Hey, I'm doing it now! If it needs words, the call goes out: "This is a job for John!" My red phone rings, I slide down my pole, switch my laptop batteries to 'power' and my turbines to 'speed' then I begin typing. What am I going to type this time, I wonder? Let's see ...

We’ve talked about Video Marketing, now let’s look into the arcane and secretive world of the Stock Video Libraries. You see stock images and video everyday without realising it. Here’s why…


Welcome to WTF is Video Marketing 2: Market Harder. Well, we toyed with the idea of giving that name to this article, then we thought it would probably be better for the SEO to give it a slightly more on-the-nose name.

That said, this genuinely is a sequel to WTF is Video Marketing? In that piece we gave you an insight into the value of Video Marketing as well as some behind-the-scenes support into how achievable great video marketing is these days!

One of the facilities that makes great quality video production available to anyone – almost irrespective of budget – is the use of Stock Video Libraries. Whether you’re looking for still images in graphic design or motion pictures for video production, Stock Video Libraries are a great resource that your customers probably don’t know about.

Even better, used well, stock video blends seamlessly with your own video footage, elevating the breadth and quality of your video and doing it both quickly and cost-effectively.

Stock Video – Fixing it in Post

One pro-tip that filmmakers know, but their clients often don’t – is the value of Stock Video. It may surprise you to learn that the TV shows you watch every day, and big-budget feature films you go to see at the IMAX will often use stock video. When? Well, in establishing shots, for example.

If the director wants your characters to head out into the woods and needs that sequence to begin with a grand panoramic shot of the forest disappearing into the distance – you can go to the trouble of scouting a location, hiring a crew to send up a drone, then wait weeks or months for the season and the weather to be right.

Or, you can spend a few minutes looking through a Stock Video Library, find a shot that someone has already taken in the right kind of weather at the right time of year in the right kind of forest and, for a fraction of the price, purchase that and drop it in.

You want to show that your characters are inside an impressive glass and chrome building in New York, even though you’re shooting your film in Ireland for tax reasons? Same deal applies. Grab an establishing shot from a stock library and the audience is right their in The Big Apple with your characters.

Using stock video footage saves time and money. It isn’t cheating, it’s simply using your resources intelligently. And, let’s face it, if it’s good enough for Hollywood, it’s good enough for you and me!

Cost Savings

If you’re producing your own Video Marketing content, the actual production will likely be the most expensive and time-consuming part of that process. If small businesses and busy marketing departments want to compete, they need to cut costs and production times.

Stock video provides that short-cut. You want to use well-shot, high quality images of happy people in a coffee shop in the background behind your logo? No worries. You want to show shots of people playing with their dog on the beach in the background while you show your pack-shot? Consider it done!

Seriously, no matter how specific and niche your business, there will almost certainly be stock video out there you can use to add quality and texture to your videos.

Stock libraries are a cost-effective solution that adds visual interest and real quality to your videos.

Time Savings

Careful use of stock video can save you an immense amount of it. Searching for and purchasing the right clips can be done in minutes, eliminating the need for planning shoots, hiring crew, and waiting for the perfect weather or lighting conditions. This means you can produce and launch your marketing campaigns more quickly, more often, keeping your content timely and relevant.

Added Creativity

Stock Libraries are vast and diverse, offering clips from around the world that you might not be able to capture yourself. This abundance of choice opens up creative possibilities, allowing you to tell your story in unique and engaging ways. Whether you need aerial shots of cities, nature scenes, or specific activities, stock video can provide it.

You can also find a plethora of animations and graphics which can also enhance your Video Marketing.

From our own experience, here at CMA: We’ve needed everything from images of hooded hackers hunched over computers, to managers wearing hi-viz in oil refineries, to scientists in head-to-toe PPE working in clean rooms. It’s all there for us, ready to use.

Added Quality

Producing high quality Video Marketing at pace and for a reasonable budget can be challenging. Stock video comes in a range of resolutions up to 4K and the filmmakers who supply the footage to the libraries are all professionals who typically have the best eye and the best equipment. Therefore, they can produce imagery that elevates the visuals you employ and, therefore, enhance the overall impression your videos create.

How to use Stock Video in your Video Marketing

There are a lot of libraries out there. You can usually search them for free, to see if they have the kind of footage you’re looking for. The bigger the library, the wider the choice it will offer.

Once you’ve settled on a library that suits your needs, you simply subscribe and you can download the video and use it commercially in your videos (subject to their terms and conditions, of course – do your due diligenceto be sure you can use the footage commercially).

To get you started, here are a few libraries we’re familiar with. They may not have the content or the style you’re looking for, but they’ll get you started.

Suggested Stock Video Libraries

  • Adobe Stock: This is curated by the same people who make Photoshop, Audition, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Illustrator. So, your designers and editors are likely already committed to using Adobe tools. Adobe Stock also contains photos, illustrations, vectors, audio files, fonts and 3D models.
  • Envato Elements: Envato began in 2006 as the little start-up that could. Nearly twenty years later, Envato Elements is a vast and varied library which offers not only stock images and footage but also sound effects, music and motion graphics. All of that allows for more customised and creative video content.
  • Getty Images: Known for its high-quality content, Getty Images provides an extensive selection, including unique and hard-to-find clips, perfect for standout videos.
  • Shutterstock: One of the largest and most well-established collections of stock images and videos, Shutterstock offers everything from breathtaking landscapes to dynamic urban scenes, to a mind-boggling variety of people, making it a go-to resource for many marketers.

By carefully and cleverly using stock video libraries, you can pimp-up your Video Marketing to exactly the same level as anything produced by any company in the world – because you are using the same strategy, the same workflow and the same tools as they are.

There is no reason why your Video Marketing can’t make your business look like a world beater, no matter how small and local you are.


AI in Stock Video Libraries

One development that is radically transforming the stock video marketplace is AI.

I know, I know, there are complicated ethical and legal issues swirling around the generation of AI imagery and video – but the Stock Video Libraries are leading the world in employing these new, powerful tools in a way that is respectful to original artists and copyright holders.

But, if you can type a prompt into an AI Generative Video platform and get imagery in seconds that looks real, is there even a role for Stock Video Libraries?

Well, yes – because AI isn’t actually creating anything new. It doesn’t have an imagination. It just copies and mashes-up existing images based on their meta-tags and the algorithmic description of the image’s content and style.

Also, the AI image generator you use has no idea if what it has offered you is right or wrong, good or bad. It relies on you to guide it and instruct it.

AI is like any tool – it can produce great results when used by people who understand it. But the creation of great images still requires an understanding of composition, for example, or an appreciation of aesthetics. Artists can actually evaluate the quality of their work and that of other artists, AI can’t.

Not yet.

AI & Stock Video Libraries

Never-the-less, the Stock Image and Stock Video libraries are integrating the new technology into their offering, in order to stay ahead of the approaching AIceberg.

A few of the libraries that are already employing AI tools in one way or another, include:


Shutterstock has integrated a new generative AI tool called Creative AI into its library of over 700 million images. Creative AI employs technology developed by OpenAI and allows users to generate new images and edit existing ones into new works that are both ethical and appropriately licensed.

Getty Images’ iStock has introduced what it calls ‘commercially safe’ AI imagery through its Generative AI initiative. This service utilises AI models trained on extensive stock photography and video libraries to generate new, licensable images and artwork. 

Adobe Stock:

Adobe Stock now accepts illustrations created using Generative AI. The company has created a new submission policy to ensure the responsible use of generated artwork by creators and customers. And, importantly, contributors can earn royalties for AI-generated content.


Pixabay is pioneering offering free AI-generated 4K and HD stock videos as part of the mix of photography and illustrated imagery it offers.

AI is undoubtedly reshaping the world of stock. It’s a brave new world where there are new tools, and new standards being unveiled all the time. As we continue to navigate this new territory, the conversation about the role of AI in visual content creation is only just beginning.


Well, there you have it!

Hopefully, our journey through the world of Stock Video Libraries has shown you just how much they can turbocharge your video marketing efforts. From saving time and money to adding a splash of creativity, quality or glamour. Stock footage is the secret sauce for many successful marketing campaigns. It’s not just about cutting corners; it’s about smartly leveraging the resources that are already at your fingertips.

And yes, the integration of AI in Stock Video Libraries is stirring up the pot, offering both challenges and wildly exciting possibilities.

So, as you harness these incredible resources, keep pushing the boundaries of what you can achieve. Now, go forth and create!

Or we could do your Video Marketing for you!

And, don’t forget, if you feel inspired but you simply don’t have the time to dedicate to Video Marketing – you can always get in touch with us here at CMA Towers.

We’d be happy to make you look like a million dollars – at a fraction of that price.

We look upon our clients as partners. Your goals become our goals and we are totally committed to helping you reach, then exceed them.

And, thanks to our years in business and the breadth of our client base, we offer so much more than just kick-ass marketing.

We love a new challenge, we love travelling into new marketing and business territory. Do we worry that there are no roads to follow/ We do not. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!

To be continued …

John Ashbrook

I'm a Senior Writer. I put words together to create sentences. Hey, I'm doing it now! If it needs words, the call goes out: "This is a job for John!" My red phone rings, I slide down my pole, switch my laptop batteries to 'power' and my turbines to 'speed' then I begin typing. What am I going to type this time, I wonder? Let's see ...
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