Should Yahoo/Flickr Be Advertising Paid Pro Memberships as “Ad-Free Browsing and Sharing” When They In Fact Plan on Advertsing at Them?

Should Yahoo/Flickr Be Advertising Paid Pro Memberships as "Ad-Free Browsing and Sharing" When They In Fact Plan on Advertsing at Them?

Last week I blogged about the latest advertising campaign that’s shown up on Flickr, the McDonald’s “Show us What You’re Made Of,” campaign/group sponsored by McDonald’s “quality” group. The group is clearly commercial and designed to promote McDonald’s on Flickr. The group links directly to a McDonald’s page and encourages members to submit “tough questions,” to a McDonald’s owned forum where you can ask McDonalds “anything” about their food quality and get “honest, straightforward answers.”

Somehow I’d imagine though that you won’t find questions like this one from the U.S. Politics and the World Group on Flickr entitled, “Why I Don’t Eat Clown Meat.

Now whatever you think of McDonald’s (personally I’m a huge fan of the Shamrock Shake) the fact that McDonald’s is advertising on Flickr does raise an interesting point about truth in advertising. And that is, why is Yahoo / Flickr promising you an ad free Pro account when you pay up with an annual fee and then turning around and advertising at you?

And it’s not just McDonald’s. In the past few months several additional companies have now started advertising to paid Pro Flickr Members. In addition to the “Show Us What You’re Made Of” Mickey D’s group. Today I noticed that I could also now share with “Team Visa” what inspires me to “get moving.” By the way, someone should show the “Team Visa” admin how to change their default avatar from the blank flickr face to something more cool looking.

From the Visa campaign:

“What inspires you to get moving? Send in your photos of people in action— whether it’s an everyday activity like going to the movies, or a titanic event like scaling the Matterhorn, whether it’s swimming with dolphins, or walking the dog. And your pics could appear for Visa campaigns all over the world.

Have you ever been surprised to find out some place takes Visa? (Places like your neighbor’s lemonade stand, or a traveling noodle shop in Tibet.) If you have, send those pictures along, too.”

That’s it damnit. Cancel that American Express card pronto. The traveling noodle shop in Tibet now takes, yep, you guessed it! VISA!

But if McDonald’s and Visa are not enough for you, maybe you ought to check out the Nikon Digital Learning Center. Or how about the Kiss and Be Kissed Group (sponsored by Nivea). Or you can tell Kodak what your story is here. Or you can hang out in the uber cool “Life’s for Sharing” group sponsored by Deutsche Telekom (warning it’s in German). Or check this out. Ford Motor Company is now inviting a few very lucky select flickr members to be a guest editor on their “This is Now” blog through their “This is Now” group on Flickr (your bailout dollars hard at work I guess). All of these groups, by the way, are now prominently displayed on the main groups page for all free *and* paid Pro account Flickr members.

Now. I’m as much for Yahoo/Flickr making money as the next Taurus driving Nikon shooting hamburger hawking clown. But the point is, why are they pumping all these adverts out at paid members when they promise you an ad free experience on Flickr if you pay and upgrade to Pro. Whatever happened to, in the words of the immortal Hunter S. Thompson, “you buy the ticket, take the ride?”

My own opinion is that paid members ought to be exempt from having these adverts directed at them. Either that or Flickr ought to drop the “ad-free browsing and sharing” claim from their own advert above.

And this post was *not* brought to you by Burger King.

McDonald’s Launches Social Media Beachhead on Flickr

Golden Arches

“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed Canon 5D Mark 2?”

It’s interesting to see king of the fast food jungle McDonald’s showing up sponsoring the latest group on Flickr. The group, “Show Us What You’re Made Of,” sponsored by “McDonald’s Quality,” would appear to be the latest attempt by corporate America at making inroads into the vast world of social media.

I’m not sure how much money Flickr/Yahoo is making on the deal, but I’d assume that they are making at least some as the group says it’s “sponsored” and Flickr has a clear policy against people using Flickr for commercial purposes.

From the Flickr Community Guidelines: “Flickr is for personal use only. If we find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account. Any other commercial use of Flickr, Flickr technologies (including APIs, FlickrMail, etc), or Flickr accounts must be approved by Flickr. For more information on leveraging Flickr APIs, please see our Services page. If you have other open questions about commercial usage of Flickr, please feel free to contact us.”

This is not the first attempt by a major corporation to establish a presence on a social network (Pepsi has a room on FriendFeed for example and lots of companies are using Twitter), but it is one of the first that I’ve seen on Flickr.

A couple of interesting points about the new group. The forums normally associated with Flickr groups are closed in this group. The group reads: “Note: Group discussion has been locked, so no new topics can be posted.”

McDonald’s does direct people to their own off-site forum for conversations. The pitch for their own forum on their McDonald’s site comes with the invitation promise: “We also think you deserve honest, straightforward answers to your tough questions, so we’ve opened a forum where you can ask us anything about our food quality.” Of course, I’m assuming that this forum will be highly censored and once you get there has a disclaimer that, “please note, not every question will be chosen for a reply.” At present it looks like there are just four questions. I’d assume that questions by animal rights activists or others who might oppose McDonald’s corporate mission might not be among the “tough questions,” that they choose to answer.

It is also interesting that by submitting photos to the official McDonald’s photo pool you are basically giving McDonalds a free unlimited irrevocable license to use your photographs any way they’d like to both now and in the future. From the group rules:

“and further, you agree that McDonald’s and its assigns shall have, without further obligation to you, the royalty free, fully paid up, non-exclusive right and permission to copy, publicly display, publicly perform and use, worldwide in any online media now known or hereafter developed, including but not limited to the World Wide Web, at any time or times…”

Thus far a little over 400 people have joined the group, but because the discussion threads are locked it does not seem very vibrant. The photos in the group’s photo pool generally seem to have nothing to do with McDonald’s and appear to be just random photos submitted by various users. Apparently all photos submitted to the pool are moderated by McDonald’s and already some photos have already been not approved for submission.

Certainly corporate American’s foray into social media has begun. In addition to several well known (and in some case suggested) Twitter accounts, it would seem that Flickr may be the next place that Corporate America is looking to sell you more and more of the American fast food dream. And it may be the next place that Yahoo begins looking for to further monetize your Flickr experience.

In addition to the “official” McDonald’s group on Flickr, there does seem to be a much more active unofficial McDonald’s group on Flickr here.

Thanks for the heads up Eric!

You can see my set of McDonald’s imagery on Flickr here.