Local Search to Get Hotter — How Yahoo! Might Use Flickr to Drive Value

Local Matters Goes After Local Search Tech Market: The article linked here is on a new player getting into the Local Search market, Local Matters.

I predict that local search will continue to be hot in the next couple of years. Local Search = commerce… and commerce = real dollars, not just eyeballs.

Seeing as I see the world through Flickr colored glasses these days it does bring up another interesting opportunity. Attach flickr tags of a businesses name to their local search profile in Yahoo!. A lot of times when I’m searching for a business I want to see what it looks like either inside or from the street. If I wanted to see the Carnelian Room in San Francisco for instance, how cool would it be at Yahoo! local search to see some of the truly spectacular views shot by Flickrites up there — a gallery of Flickr images tied to each business and establishment.

Flickr could pull the top 10 most interestingness (if 10 existed) of a business and have them available as a slide show or thumbnails. Businesses would be charged micropayments each time the photos were clicked or possibly just an added fee for having the flickr component on their listing. Businesses would have the ability to exclude certain shots if they wanted to for whatever reason.

Flickrites could be given Flickr rewards points every time one of their shots was included in a Yahoo! local profile. These reward points would go towards my previously described Flickr Rewards loyalty program where you’d get a free Pro account, free Pro accounts to give out to others, Flickr Gear, prizes, etc.

The program would obviously be optional for flickerites giving each person a choice to opt in or opt out. If someone clicked on an actual thumbnail from the Yahoo! local screen it would direct them to the photographer’s Flickr site.

Why should Yahoo! or companies pay a bunch of money to have marginal photos taken of their establishment when there are an army of volunteer photographers who already have much better shots at Flickr.

Take my own case. I have a set of Ferry Building shots up on Flickr right now. I think I’ve got some pretty good shots in there that might have commercial value. It would be great if you went to the Ferry Building’s page on Yahoo! local and had a chance to see this set. Similarly individual businesses in the Ferry Building that I’ve tagged could also have my shots associated with their Yahoo! local site.

While some photographers might not be as comfortable as I am with their work being used this way, they could of course opt out. But I think there are a lot of people like me out there who would have no problem with this, particularly if it were tied to a Flickr Rewards program.

Here is a way for Yahoo! to continue to drive value from the Flickr acquisition and here is a way for the amateur photographers on Flickr to gain yet more exposure and participate in something fun and cool.

Of course this would work best if business names were actually tagged and driving tagging behavior is important. Also I’d assume many businesses out there, most businesses now in fact, would not have any photos tagged. This is where Flickr needs to continue recruiting and promoting their service with good amateur photographers. In it’s initial implementation perhaps a program could be written to search all tags and cross reference them current Yahoo! local customers and sell this as an add on feature where applicable via an email promotion. If nothing else, businesses might appreciate being made aware of the photographs of their establishments out there. If they liked them they could create a group from the photos to use for their Yahoo! local site. With many businesses still without photos on Flickr it might be early for this but something to think about for the future for sure.