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Yahoo! Mining Flickr Data to Sell Me a New Camera

Paul Kedrosky notes that Flickr has begun to publish trend data on camera popularity. Not everyone is aware that jpeg’s created by digital cameras contain meta data (known as EXIF data). That meta data includes the camera make and model used to capture the image, the exposure settings, and other data about the camera and the shot. Flickr is aggregating the camera make and model data from uploaded images and plotting charts of camera popularity. Smart move. It’s early, but if it proves useful, it may be an opportunity for producing market data that has commercial value.

Extending the concept, I know my Canon EOS EXIF data includes the number of exposures I have recorded with my camera to date, and the lens I used for the image. That means if I upload jpegs directly to Flickr, Yahoo! knows how much I use my camera, and how close I am to having “used it up” (Canon’s EOS 10D has an expected lifetime rated in # exposures). In other words, Yahoo! (owner of Flickr) knows when I am a good candidate to buy a new high-end digital SLR camera. They know I own a 70-200mm IS lens with anti-vibration technology, so I am a high-end buyer. They know I also own a 135 f2 L series, also a higher-end lens. In fact, if I upload enough photos, Yahoo! can make a pretty good guess of which lens I don’t yet own (a super wide) and pitch it to me. 

That, my friend, is targeted market research data. And every time you upload an image to Flickr, you give that away for free. And someone else will monetize that either now, or someday in the future when it is worthwhile.

If you are doing anything on the web you should be paying attention to possible monetization strategies as you go down the road. They are everywhere, and many may require just a bit or two of additional data storage for optimization. Although most will not be worth pursuing when recognized, the day will come when your little bag of monetization ideas has real cash value.

Sample EXIF data grabbed off the web. Note the camera make and model, lens, and image numbers are in there:

FileName: IMG_9984.JPG
FileSize: 3187868
FileType: 2
MimeType: 0
Make: Canon
Model: Canon EOS 10D
Orientation: 6
XResolution: 180
YResolution: 180
ResolutionUnit: 2
DateTime: 2003:03:18 14:09:12
YCbCrPositioning: 1
Exif_IFD_Pointer: 196
ExposureTime: 1/250
FNumber: 8
ISOSpeedRatings: 100
ExifVersion: 0220
DateTimeOriginal: 2003:03:18 14:09:12
DateTimeDigitized: 2003:03:18 14:09:12
CompressedBitsPerPixel: 3
ShutterSpeedValue: 261023/32768
ApertureValue: 6
ExposureBiasValue: 0
MaxApertureValue: 97349/32768 (3.0)
MeteringMode: 5
Flash: 0
FocalLength: 21
FlashPixVersion: 0100
ColorSpace: 1
ExifImageWidth: 3072
ExifImageLength: 2048
InteroperabilityOffset: 2330
FocalPlaneXResolution: 768000/223 (3,443.9)
FocalPlaneYResolution: 409600/119 (3,442.0)
FocalPlaneResolutionUnit: 2
SensingMethod: 2
CustomRendered: 0
ExposureMode: 0
WhiteBalance: 0
SceneCaptureType: 0
InterOperabilityIndex: R98
InterOperabilityVersion: 0100
RelatedImageWidth: 3072
RelatedImageHeight: 2048
ModeArray: Array
ImageInfo: Array
ImageType: IMG:EOS 10D JPEG
FirmwareVersion: Firmware Version 1.0.0
Camera: 220105445
ImageNumber: 8999984
CustomFunctions: Array


  1. pjy wrote:

    Does Googlebot-Image, Yahoo and MSN robots collect this information?

    Massive potential information indirectly given.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006 at 5:01 am | Permalink
  2. The stats ( show some suprising results. I would have figured most flikr users would be using low to mid range cameras but the top camras seem to be some upper end SLR digital cameras.

    Just goes to show you that you shouldn’t assume you know your users. You need to actually ask.

    Friday, November 24, 2006 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  3. john andrews wrote:

    A few years later no win 2009, Flickr reports these stats with suggestions of cameras to buy ( and of course, Yahoo! shopping links.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

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  1. Fused Nation SEO Blog on Friday, November 24, 2006 at 4:39 am

    Using your market data for smart selling…

    John Andrews gives a great example of how companies can use the data they collect (or have available to them) to target potential customers in a more intelligent way.
    In his example, he explains that jpeg files contain meta data that includes make and …