From the moment Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced the $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr, the underbelly of the alternative social network bellowed. It was a cry heard ‘round the world, as devoted Tumblr fanatics took to their blogs to express their fears and dismay.
Though Mayer promised not to “screw it up,” many Tumblr fans fear Yahoo might start regulating content, throwing out the “anything goes” aspect users have grown to love so much. There’s also a lot of unease from users worried about an overflow of advertisements, something Tumblr has avoided in the past.
As an avid Tumblr user, my initial reaction was somewhat similar. “THEY’RE GOING TO RUIN TUMBLR AND MY LIFE! WHYYYYYYYYYYY?” (Insert GIF of James Van Der Beek’s famous crying face from “Dawson’s Creek”)
However, after watching a recent Good Morning America interview, I felt relieved.
According to Mayer and Tumblr CEO David Karp, Tumblr’s most precious features will remain unchanged. But, that’s not to say adjustments aren’t coming. Karp, who had previously expressed utmost disgust for advertising on the site, revealed ads are inevitable. We all knew that was coming. For a website with over 50 billion blog posts, 300 million unique monthly visitors and little revenue, it would be a death wish to shun advertising.
So as Yahoo enters the equation, and advertisements are undoubtedly on the horizon, will there be a way to appease users without prompting an exodus? Well, as Karp said in the GMA interview, yes. He doesn’t want tacky advertisements. “The thesis for our business was that that was the type of advertising that we could inspire and enable on Tumblr,” he said in the interview.
The key words there are “inspire and enable.” Tumblr is a place of creativity and freethinking. Visual content is of the utmost importance.
What Yahoo needs to do here is something like content marketing. Perhaps, instead of content marketing, which is a method used mostly by online marketing companies, we’ll call it “content advertising.” Content advertising should Tumblr users to the advertisements by making them bold, beautiful and compelling. Nobody wants to see a bogus ad on the side of their page or on their Dashboard. Instead, create ads that people will WANT to reblog. Put the advertisement text in the text box, so if someone wants to reblog the image or video, the words won’t show up on their perfectly designed Tumblr theme.
If Karp and Mayer strive to keep Tumblr as it is and grow its user base, I see this as the only way to advertise. If you post a pretty picture on Tumblr, you’re guaranteed thousands of reblogs. However, if you accompany that picture with an ad in the text box, it turns into a viral advertisement without being too invasive or overwhelming.
Since the merger of Yahoo and Tumblr combines some of the brightest minds in technology, I don’t think it will be too hard for them to come up with a similar concept. I’m sure they all know how to use Photoshop.