Monetizing Flickr: What the Nikon deal means…

Monetizing Flickr: What the Nikon deal means...
Kate Moss and Nikon cameras = cheesy ads. But don’t forget, cheeseburgers sell

Some web 2.0 companies are currently going through reality-check… just folded, and many others are trying to figure out how to start making some money out of their services.

Don’t believe me?
Try searching for job descriptions at some of these companies… many I’ve seen are looking for marketing personnel for the particular mission of monetizing their products and services (I’ll be starting my own “hire me!” campaign soon). This certainly reminds me of the dot.bombs back in the 90’s. As you know a lot of what we use on the web is implicitly free, but whether it’s Web 1.0 or 2.0, someone still has to foot the bill. We’re talking web hosting, bandwidth charges, customer support, staff salaries, etc etc…

As such, it didn’t come with much surprise that just last week, camera firm Nikon came together with photo-sharing site Flickr to strike a deal. This marketing deal included three things:
1. adding small logos next to photos that were taken with Nikon cameras
2. branding on the site before users have signed in
3. hosting special Nikon-only photo galleries

The branding is the first of its kind on the Flickr site since the site is currently monetized only by Yahoo search ads. I was interested to see the reaction of the blogosphere towards having the Nikon branding next to their photos, since this could potentially be an intrusive though novel marketing approach (or in B.L. Ochman’s words: Annoying).

Although I did find the Nikon Gallery (simply tag your photos “NikonStunningGallery”), I haven’t seen any Nikon logos appearing anywhere on the regular Flickr site, even though I searched for Nikon tagged photos. I guess that’s probably because my Flickr Pro account doesn’t let me see the ads.

An interesting response I saw came from Tara Hunt, the Pinko Marketing champion who works used to work for Riya, a Flickr competitor:

This is why I think Flickr and Nikon are teaming up for this strange campaign (via BL Ochman). What they are doing is making it explicit, which isn’t always bad, but it could backfire. For instance:

Everyone knows that Scott Beale’s photos are great because:
1. He has an excellent eye
2. He has a pretty kickass camera

Everyone also knows that Thomas Hawk’s photos are great because of the same reasons. Oh…wait a minute…that’s an EOS they are using…hmmmmmmm…

By training everyone to start looking at the camera brand, they may be disappointed in the results. šŸ˜‰

I was thinking along the same lines of strangeness, since the results might be so convoluted that bottomline might not help Nikon at all. However, thinking about it from the user standpoint, I believe that it is network effects which would drive this campaign.

Most people will be driven to photos with the more viewership or interestingness as Flickr coins it. As such, even if I were to view a crummy photo by chance, I might not pay attention to the Nikon logo as much as I would on a highly viewed photograph with the Nikon brand on it.

This means that given the mechanics of viewership, the risks might be worth the reward. This new Flickr / Nikon deal is a tad risky, that’s what real cutting-edge marketing is about.

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