BUY THIS! BUY THIS! BUY THIS!

We’ve been talking lately about the onslaught of porn on Flickr. But there’s something far worse polluting the “Flickr Experience”: advertising.

I don’t mean ads that show up on free members pages. I’m talking about companies using Flickr to hawk their wares by setting up pro membership pages devoted to their products or services. These same interlopers create groups then entice Flickr members to add photos of “your favorite Pepsi product!”

This blog post by Thomas Hawk lays out what Flickr is doing.  Here’s Visa’s group referred to by Hawk, Visa – Life in Action. This post from an Indian blog describes Coca Cola’s plan to use Flickr as a part of its “social media” advertising plan.

Flickr photos can be advertisements, too. This brief post on AD LAB explains how its done! You’ll find the photo he mentions on Flickr here.

Flickr is being use by more and more politicians and organizations to get their message out. The White House has a photostream with over 1,500 images. The Red Cross is here. Check out the official page of the California chapter of the American Cancer Society. This page of the Republican Party of Arkansas is as empty as Republican rhetoric. The Chicago chapter of the United Way’s page is here.

I don’t really care about Flickr advertisements. It’s a bit like the hullabaloo over videos on Flickr. They didn’t bother me because I didn’t watch. On the other hand, ads can cleverly integrated with Flickr content.  It would be relatively easy for a company to spam Flickr groups with subtle or not so subtle advertising images (automobiles would be a prime exanple; a chevrolet can be in lots of places and involved with lots of activities… “here’s grandma in Colorado on her skiing trip in her new Chevy Volt – did you know it gets 35 mpg and has a five year warranty??? Click here to learn more!”)

While Flickr bans commercial activity, its obviously allowing, and profiting from, sites run by companies. How much would some national brand name pay to have total access to Flickr? I’m certain it would be a very pretty penny. It could get pretty annoying since you’d never know you’d clicked on a ad image until it loaded.

Of course I’m probably just a hypocrite since lots of my photos have text advertising my photo books!

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