The elephant in the room- Elements search, and how it is affecting earnings

I’m sorry, but we are going to have to discuss the elephant in the room: The new search engine. Who is it currently serving? I don’t know in what way it is Ai driven, but the results from it suggest that regardless of being Ai, it is still extremely weighted to the very specific title of a track. As a music author, I’m specifically talking about music.

Despite regularly uploading new items, I’m finding them very difficult to find in search, unless I use their specific titles, and my overnight revenues on Elements lately have become very low, and this is very unsettling. I know I’m not the only music author to have taken a drop in earnings and be worried about it, I’ve spoken to several, but they daren’t say anything as they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’.

Whilst I know I’m not unique in this: I spend a lot of money on software and instruments, and a lot of time in trying to create content that is in tune with cultural and religious events, and I spend a lot of time using real instruments whenever possible, and trying to create the best quality items that I can for Elements.

The majority of my income comes from Elements, and after 17 years of Envato being the main focus of my working life, and being one of the first audio authors on both AudioJungle and Elements, I’m feeling disrespected and discarded to see my earnings going to almost nothing.

If my revenue on Elements is to become just pocket money, then I’ll make no further effort to supply content, and will consider deleting my portfolio.

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Sales have crashed for me inside 8 weeks just 10 dollars a day.What is going on.

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My top selling African track has just gone off the radar.

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A portfolio of 617 tracks is now bringing in peanuts

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Thanks for the feedback. It’s been brought up with the search team. The changes are just the small beginnings of big plans for improving search results so please give it a bit of time as things are tested and adjusted :blush:

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“Small beginnings” is definitely accurate, I had another night of very low earnings last night.

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I’ve been told the AI tagging for audio has yet to go live so that should hopefully help.

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Good, thanks for the update, I hope it helps.

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I have alot of world music that sold well and now nothing.I hope you can sort yhat issue

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Whereas I’ve always seemed to have a difficulty in getting my world music items to show very well in search.

Ai search seems a bit broken for me:

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Any developer right now wants to play with AI, but that doesn’t necessarily mean AI needs to be implemented here there and everywhere.

Outside of fixing typos and finding related items for searches with low results, I’d be very curious if an AI model would significantly improve search results.

At least in my initial tests just now, normal search seems to outperform the AI search. Some searches returned better results, but most of them were significantly worse.

By scrolling through items, choosing one and downloading it, humans have already indicated which items should be closer to the top of the results. I hope this data, e.g conversion rate and number of downloads, is not replaced by the whim of an AI model.

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9 Dollars for 5 days is super low Why the sudden drop.

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Yep, do you remember when the content bonus was pulled? We were told that eventually we would see more income because they would be able to invest the money into growing the business, but if our earnings are to become pocket money, who is benefitting from that investment?

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yep its hard as an author to stay motivation

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My earnings have been much better for the last two days, so I’m hoping the low earnings were just a blip.

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with 57 thousand items , my income crashed 40 % in 3 months .
In stock video category, only one author ( Yuri) is being shown all over the page .

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That’s very concerning. I believe that all authors should have an equal opportunity of having their work discovered. I feel like a lot of good works of many authors have little visibility and little chance to become “popular” or “relevant” (whatever that really means).

@stockland Could you send me a DM with details on your account(s)? That doesn’t match what I can see for earnings or search exposure, but I can do some more investigation.

@AndySlatter More info to come in a moment, as I’ve now talked to the Product and Analytics folks and managed to get my notes in order.

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Note: This was mostly written for Music authors as that’s what I started out looking into, but the comments about Popular Items will apply to other categories too.

What’s changed recently for Music on Elements?

Two main changes:

  • Popular Items ranking system for music tracks
    • Replaces an older “item boost” system
  • AI-detected item tags for Music tracks (theme, decade, genre, mood, instrument)
    • These new tags are currently used in filtering only - the author-supplied tags are still used for keyword search

Why did these change?

We want to make sure Elements customers can find the items they need, so they are more likely to subscribe, and so they keep using their subscriptions for longer.

The biggest Audio customer complaint for Elements is the relevance of items they can find on site: when they can’t find what they’re looking for, they assume the library doesn’t have good content, and they go elsewhere to find music tracks. There are several projects that address different aspects of this problem, aimed at surfacing tracks the customers want to license.

We measure the impact of this in several ways:

  • Customer interaction with the product. Are they making more searches, viewing more items, playing audio previews, downloading more tracks?
  • Search performance. Are the items shown in search results more likely to be downloaded?
  • Customer retention. Do they use their Elements subscription more? Do they continue their subscription for longer?
  • Customer acquisition. Are we better able to bring in new customers for Audio items?

What are the details?

Our older “popular items” ranking had a lot of problems, as widely reported by Authors and Customers alike: it relied heavily on static boosts applied to selected items at time of publishing, didn’t respond to changing customer behavior, and presented a very similar “popular” lineup to customers from one year to the next. On Feb 1 we replaced that system.

The new system uses several data points to rank item popularity, focussing on how customers are engaging with the items in the library. The new system for item popularity is also continually refreshed, comparing item performance across the past 28 days to show a more accurate view of the items currently popular among Elements customers.

What’s the impact of this change?

There has been a strong positive impact on the main customer problems since implementing the new Popular ranking:

  • Search-to-download ratios have improved significantly, so fewer customers are leaving the site without downloading something. This applies across all of Elements, with a huge boost to search-to-download in every item category.
  • For music, Audio previews are also being played more often, showing that customers are seeing more relevant items. For other categories, there’s a comparable improvement in clicks through to item pages.
  • Higher customer satisfaction results, particularly for Audio customers. We track this continuously, as it’s an early indicator of customer retention.

However, this changes the way the current pool of earnings are distributed. Until this change also impacts customer acquisition, there’s still a similar amount of customer revenue available to distribute.

Customers are using a wider range of items, which means that more items are now generating earnings, and those earnings are less concentrated into specific top items. As a consequence, some items that benefited heavily from the static Popular Items boost over the last few years are now being out-performed by other tracks, and portfolios that relied heavily on earnings from a small number of top items are seeing an earnings drop.

We recognise that this is frustrating, especially where earnings have been dominated by a specific track. However, we are confident that Elements is now significantly better at meeting the needs of our Audio customers, by addressing one of their primary pain points and improving the overall experience and perception they have of Elements. Over the coming months we’ll continue assessing the impact on cancellation and subscription rates: both of which increase the amount of earnings available, instead of just changing how it is distributed.

What else is on the way?

You won’t see many visible changes during the next quarter (Apr-Jun) as that team has been deployed to another project area, but more Elements Audio features will start rolling out from July onwards.

For music, some of the new features include things like a similarity search, allowing customers to provide their own reference track to find “sounds like” matches in the Elements library. Individual track variants will also be exposed directly in search. There’s a new Music category page on the way, adding more curated browsing of trends and styles. We will also be exploring how we continue to surface the most relevant results for customers when they search, as we have proven that this kind of investment drives subscriptions and downloads. This will include multi-modal vector search for music, which we’ll have a more detailed article about when it’s ready to launch.

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