A short dictionary of online art market terms

The online art market is continuing to grow, the Art Basel x UBS report stated that it grew by 10% in 2017. Galleries, auction houses and online marketplaces have started to prioritise the development of their online sales and marketing strategy. This has led to the emergence of a new vocabulary, specific to the digital world and the online art market.

With some words being entirely new and others very technical, understanding everything can be tricky. If you're not sure you know the meaning of « brick and click », «SaaS» ou « SEO » don't worry! Here are the definitions of some of the most frequently used terms.

"Brick and Click"

An expression used to designate a gallery that has both a physical place and an online presence.

Having an online presence is becoming more and more important in our digital age. The 2017 Hiscox report indicated that "65% of buyers had bought more than one artwork online during the previous 12 months".

Click to buy

A sales technique that allows a buyer to buy a product directly via the internet in just a few clicks. This very simple process encourages collectors to switch to buying. Artsper offers click-to-buy to its collectors.


Newsletters are a type of online content sent through email to a group of people via free or paid emailing software. Newsletters can be a one off, for example letting your collectors know about an upcoming exhibition opening, or they can be sent out regularly, with updates about artists, new works etc.

Online art buyer

A collector or potential buyer who purchases art online or is interested in doing so, either through an online marketplace like Artsper, or from a gallery or auction house website.

The 2018 Art Basel x UBS report revealed that the online art market made it easier for galleries to meet new collectors. In fact, 45% of collectors who bought an artwork online from galleries in 2017 had previously been unknown to the galleries.

Online Art Market

The online art market includes all artworks and art objects available for sale online through galleries, auction houses, or online art platforms.


According to the 2018 Art Basel x UBS report, the online art market represents 8% of the global art market. A major advantage of the online art market is its ability to help art galleries and auction houses reach new collectors around the world.

Online Sales Platform

Online sales platforms act as an intermediary between buyers and sellers around the world, allowing galleries or artists to put their inventory online and communicate with interested collectors. Today, many collectors are starting to turn to the internet and online platforms such as Artsper in order discover a vast selection of artworks and artists.


SaaS is an acronym that stands for "software as a service". The software is hosted by a third party and made available to customers via the internet. This allows customers to access it whenever they want and from anywhere in the world. The Artsper back office is a SaaS.


SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization". It's the refers to all the steps you take to improve your website’s ranking in search engines such as Google.

SEO is extremely important for gaining exposure. If your gallery site is among the first listed in the search results, it is more likely to be seen (and clicked on) by collectors. In fact, the first result on the first page receives 33% of the traffic, the second result 17.6%, the third only 11.4% and then the 10th 2.4%.

If you want to learn how to improve your SEO online, read this article.

Social Media

The collective group of online communication channels which allow for community-based input, interaction and content-sharing. The most commonly used are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Although Facebook has more users in total than Instagram, the latter is the art world’s preferred social media. According to the 2017 Hiscox report; 57% of art collectors surveyed said they used Instagram more often than other social media networks, with a higher proportion still among people under 35 years. Instagram also enabled galleries to sell artwork. In 2017 35% of galleries who responded said they had sold a work directly through Instagram.

Here are some of our articles on Facebook and Instagram.

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