One of the podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis is This Week in Tech. In this week’s edition, they covered the issue of Yahoo! loosing a lot of money on their recent Web 2.0 acquisition, the photo hosting/sharing site, Flickr. Flickr uses a lot of resources, and presently their only way of making money from it is to charge for prints and DVDs of their photos. About 80 people per week, out of about 10 million subscribers, actually use these services. I believe that they also charge for other things too, like more disk space and such, but anyways the issue is that they are loosing a lot of cash on it.
John Dvorak claimed on the program that Flickr is not a monetizable system, then turned around and suggested that they could take advantage of their advertising program by putting ads on the site in conjunction with their Tags — it is the tags that make Flickr unique, it would be simple to integrate tag searches with their “adsense-like” Yahoo! Ads.
I think that they could take that a step further, and integrate tagged Flickr photos into their advertising program via search results, in conjunction with a better print ordering system that would reward the photographers with a revenue stream.
Here’s what I have in mind. When people type in a search term on Yahoo!’s search, a few Flickr photos would appear in the side bar of the search results, photos that have tags which match the search keywords. This would draw traffic to Flickr. It might be relevant traffic too: if I’m searching for “lamas”, I might be interested in seeing a picture of one. The hosted Flickr image might also have ways of contacting the photo’s author so that I could ask questions, etc..
When the search user clicks on one of the thumbnails in the search results, they would go to a larger version of the image on the Flickr site, which would have Yahoo! ads for more advertising exposure. If the user clicks on those ads, the ones around the photo, the “author” of the photo, the photographer, would get a cut of the ad revenue. Also, the search user would have the option of ordering a high-quality copy of the image, and of course the photographer would also get a cut of that revenue. This way advertisers get exposure to the 10 million Flickr users, and the Flickr users (who sign up for the program) have a chance to make a bit of money from their photography skills, at the same time expanding Yahoo!’s advertising empire.
This scheme has the added benefit of proliferating the relevance of tags on the ‘net, which is said to be one of the main features of the next generation of the web, “2.0″. The downside would be the risk of the business community flooding Flickr with stupid product pictures — there would have to be some policing for that.