Behind Flickr’s New Pricing: Yahoo Really Wants To Show More Ads

flickr-dots-icon-200pxIt looks like there’s something more to today’s series of Flickr announcements than just bigger images, more storage and a shiny, new design: Yahoo really wants to show more ads.

As you probably heard, Flickr has upped its base storage for all users to an astonishing one terabyte of data. And that’s free. No charge. Zip. Gratis.

It’s a dramatic change to Flickr’s previous account tiers.

Before today, Flickr Pro accounts ran about $25 per year and included several benefits that Free accounts didn’t have:

  • unlimited photo and video uploads
  • unlimited storage
  • unlimited bandwidth
  • archiving of hi-res images
  • no ads (on Flickr.com and its mobile apps)
  • and more

Starting today, Flickr is offering Free and Ad-Free accounts. The ad-free account is now $50 per year (double the old Pro price), and the only benefit it offers is the ad-free experience. All other benefits of paying to use Flickr are gone. (There’s also a “Doublr” account level that offers two terabytes of storage, not one.)

By doubling the price of the paid account and killing all the benefits except not seeing ads, Yahoo is practically begging Flickr users not to have paid accounts.

The only logic behind that seems to be that Yahoo really wants to be able to show more ads to Flickr users.

In Yahoo’s latest earnings report, the company announced that revenue from displays ads was down 11 percent year-over-year. (See the top line of the chart below.)

yahoo-revenue-chart

Today’s Flickr changes, along with the promise that Yahoo will monetize Tumblr, appear to be a couple steps toward changing that downward display trend.

Existing Pro users can switch to a free account by August 20th and still enjoy all of the new things announced today … while also seeing ads. But they don’t have to switch; Flickr’s help page says that existing Pro users will still be able to renew their Pro account in the future. There’s no price point for that. If it’s at the same price that Pro accounts have been (about $25), it means Pro users will be able to enjoy an ad-free Flickr for about half the price of new “Ad Free” account holders.

My guess is that Flickr isn’t counting on having many Pro or Ad Free users in the future, and is looking forward to increasing its display ad inventory.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Features & Analysis | Yahoo | Yahoo: Advertising | Yahoo: Flickr

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://twitter.com/SharonHorswill Sharon Horswill

    Well said, Matt. They seem very keen on existing Pro users switching to a free account instead of sensibly allowing their Pro account to expire. We want to show you the ads now! It might store 1TB but Flickr has always been hopeless for retrieval. Who wants to download their images one at a time? I can see the likes of Smugmug making a killing as serious photographers give up and leave Flickr to the kiddies sharing photos on their IdiotPhones.

  • http://rick.cogley.info RickCogley

    Yeah, I totally agree about the marketing angle. Small customers paying 25 a year that (perhaps) does not cover their own costs, are not the target for sure. I wrote a little about it yesterday: http://rick.cogley.info/articles/2013/05/21/flickring-out/

  • Greased Babes

    So let me get this straight. Since Yahoo couldn’t monetize Flickr in any successful way, they are asking the Flickr community to pick up the tab? Now Yahoo has invaded the realm of Tumblr. Suits always ruin a good thing.

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