Flickr - Business Model

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Discussion

Mayo Fuster Morell:

"Corporations aim to make a profit and in this regard they have an instrumental approach to the community of participants. The main sources of revenue are advertisements and paid services, which shape the platforms they provide. The demands of advertisers and the requirements to increase paid subscriptions limit the type of content, number of participants, demographics of participants and the overall design of the platform as well as increasing growth and flow.

With regard to content, advertisers prefer content related to their products and do not wish their adverts to appear associated with certain types of content, for example, pornography or extremist political messages. This means that service providers must develop mechanisms to manage the content of the platform, such as moderation or peer review mechanisms. Due to the large amount of content generated by the participants this is a heavy task.


Advertisers have a preference for certain demographic groups, for example, with high consumption capacity, or interested in their type of products. In this regard, the commercial provider has to establish ways to attract the type of participants sought in order to be the preference of advertisers. In term of demographics, previous research has found that, of a sample of 200 Flickr participants, 62% were men, 88% from North America or Western Europe, 15% worked in the Information Technology field and 15% were students (Yan, 2007, p. 345).


These demographics characteristics are particularly interesting to advertisers (Cox, Clough, & Marlow, 2008; Meyer, Hara & Rosenbaum, 2005; Yan, 2007). Plus, the advertisers favor platforms with more and more members in order to increase the exposure of their advertisements and providers benefit from the increase in paid membership. In this regard commercial providers are encouraged to have most numerous communities possible. In the online communities culture, large numbers of participants are seen as a source to increase quality and to help solving problems. As stated in the famous phrase of the FLOSS, “many eyes see bugs”. However, in commercial communities the value of inclusivity also fits in with the commercial logic of recruiting the largest possible membership and exposure to advertisements.


Finally, the advertisers want activity (especially countable activity), and so the platforms are designed to increase information flow and renewal rather than archiving, integrating or systematizing the information on the platform.


The functions and terminology of Flickr are designed to influence behavior in the system towards “flow”. Flickr’s functioning and terminology emphasize activity, size, speed and increasingly global reach. Thus, rather than offering a model of a digital archive as an integrated “collection” of photos, where participants might build up a limited selection of their photos to complete the picture built collectively; Flickr’s concept of a photostream (as well as echoing the structure of blogging) implies a constant need to take more photos. Equally, the formula for “interestingness” evidently assesses the interest of a photo by how recently it was uploaded. So Flickr is designed to reward recent activity. In addition, the navigating system in the platform also reflects the design towards “flow” and novelty, navigating to older photos in an individual’s collection on Flickr is laborious, and as one forum contributor said: “The entire format encourages superficial browsing, following link after link. It’s a very different experience to the contemplative atmosphere of a gallery or an artist’s photobook” (Soth, 2007). It could be also argued that this demand for novelty cannot be traced simplistically to the needs of advertisers but reflects a general cultural value, generated by media values about news or even a democratic ideology of inclusivity.


In sum, the commercial goal of Flickr is highlighted with the emphasis on growth and constant activity which impacts on participants, who place a value on their own actions in this direction. Finally, the blackbox conditions of Flickr and the difficulties of data portability outside of the Flickr content is a way to "retain" participants and content on its own platform generating a dynamic centralization of its site. Furthermore, the type of collaboration at Flickr, based on the album type of collaboration, is less complex than in Wikihow, which could help to increase its size." (http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/download/attachments/59080767/FusterMorell-Paper.pdf)