The Shutterstock API partnership program has a consistent track record of retaining and growing partnerships with the biggest brands in the world. Here are our four tenets for ensuring partner success.

Here at Shutterstock, a key measurement of our success is the success of our partners. Our partners-first approach defines all point of contact with prospects and existing partners and has allowed us to retain almost every single partner who has integrated our API.

The Shutterstock image API launched in 2012 as both a B2B and a B2D (business to developer) solution. Today, we offer an image, video, music API with reverse image search, editing tools, and a suite of plugins. However, our core principles have not changed.

1. Delivering Scalable Value for Partners

How Shutterstock Creates API Partnerships that Last — Scalable Value
Image via everst.

A successful business partnership goes beyond meeting the current partner needs since businesses cannot afford stagnation. To best prepare our partners for future growth, we have designed our technical infrastructure to support large quantities of requests per minute that exceed the volume currently generated by our biggest partners.

Additionally, the stateless nature of the REST API protocol gives our partners the flexibility to grow their user base without running into concerns such as increasing web architecture complexity, server load balancing, or constraints around the number of concurrent sessions they can support.

Our partnership with Facebook is an example of how the API can provide workflow enhancements with scale. At first, the Shutterstock API was solely integrated into Facebook’s ad creation interface, supplying high-quality images for millions of advertisers directly in-platform. In five years, the Shutterstock API was integrated into Facebook Carousel, Power Editor, and Instagram to support additional workflow processes.

2. Delivering Value for Our Partners’ End Users

How Shutterstock Creates API Partnerships that Last — Value for End Users
Image via .

As part of providing a workflow enhancement, the Shutterstock API drives business goals by influencing key user metrics such as engagement, retention, and campaign completion rates.

The Shutterstock library of over 200 million images, video clips, and music tracks provides impactful assets that help our partners’ users create content that outperforms. MDG Advertising reports that articles with relevant images see 94% more views compared to articles without supporting images. In a 2018 report on the state of social video ads, (a Shutterstock API partner) noted that 73% of video ad creators use a mix of stock content with existing assets. One user, in particular, was able to increase Facebook engagement by more than 2,500% by leveraging’s stock content.

3. Vertical-Specific, Flexible Business Models

How Shutterstock Creates API Partnerships that Last — Vertical-Specific Business Models
Image via FabrikaSimf.

Each vertical in the martech industry has a unique set of business needs. Moreover, no two companies are exactly alike, even within the same vertical. This makes it impossible to have a one-size-fits-all business model. For example, covering the cost of content on behalf of users is popular with digital platforms to drive more campaigns, but this model would not make sense for custom print shops selling Shutterstock images directly.

An appropriate business model sets the foundation for a successful relationship. To prime our partnerships on the path to revenue, our partner development team takes the time to learn about a prospect’s unique challenges and goals, and consults with key stakeholders to create the business model that makes the most sense.

4. Dedicated Ongoing Support

How Shutterstock Creates API Partnerships that Last — Dedicated Ongoing Support
Image via Gajus.

In many transactional contexts, a signed contract represents the end of an engagement. However, in a partnership context, a signed contract activates the next phase of engagement.

Our partner management team conducts a kickoff call for new partners. Based on the commitment levels of our partners, dedicated partner managers are assigned to each account. For partners at a higher commitment tier, we conduct check-in calls at least once a month to follow up, troubleshoot, and strategize.

Since our API is a technical solution, we also provide robust support for developers. Currently, we are expanding our API documentation and reference pages as part of a redesign of the developer portal. Furthermore, we have a dedicated API support team to answer questions during and after the integration process.


Our partnership ethos is grounded in offering a scalable partnership that provides a streamlined workflow, superior assets, flexible business models, and consistent partner support.

With these four basic tenets, Shutterstock has sustained long-term relationships with companies large and small in the martech space. To learn more about how your business can benefit from having our team in your corner, contact us today.

Cover image by metamoreworks.

For more information about the Shutterstock API, check out these articles.