Your Parents Are Trying To Ruin Tumblr

With a cup of my favourite English tea in hand (Tesco Value, 39p - if you're at all interested) I was undertaking my usual 9am client content search today when I stumbled/tumbled across this wonderfully topical post (below) from so-relatable.tumblr.com. Almost instantly I began to think about the future for Tumblr in sight of Yahoo's $1.1 billion acquisition of the popular blogging platform.

I wondered if the parents were indeed trying to ruin Tumblr - not with badly-framed pictures of dusty ornaments, blog posts about their favourite tablecloths or your embarrassing childhood pictures, but with adverts instead?

The latest nine-figure purchase is one that most internet industry experts probably didn't predict. For one thing, Yahoo's history of user generated content startup purchases is anything but stellar - Flickr and Geocities both perfect examples of Yahoo's ability to turn wine into water.

Only time will tell if the deal is a success but one thing is certain, advertisers ears are starting to prick up with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer most certainly looking to monetise the blogging platform.

Yahoo has promised "not to screw up" what the service has created. However, the fact that Tumblr reportedly generated just $13million in revenue last year will have already rung the alarm bells at Yahoo HQ.

On a conference call discussing the acquisition, Mayer made it clear that Yahoo have definite advertising ideas:

"Tumblr already does some advertising, though minimal, in its feed. We would like to look at them and understand how we could introduce ads — in a very light ad load — where the impact is really created, because the ads really fit the users’ expectations and follow the form and function of the dashboard."

There are many issues that Yahoo face here though.

For one thing, Tumblr is a relatively old (in internet terms) blogging platform and already has an established audience that are more than adverse to advertising. It's also run by a twenty-something who's said he doesn't like advertising - not a great start.

Tumblr also has pornography - lots of it. In fact, according to TechCrunch, pornographic material makes up over 11% of the platforms top domains and is the leading driver of referral traffic. Yahoo will certainly have to allay any potential advertisers concerns about NSFW content.

One answer to this is to focus on numbers rather than the makeup of the audience. Yahoo's official announcement, written by Mayer claims that "the combination of Tumblr+Yahoo! could grow Yahoo!’s audience by 50% to more than a billion monthly visitors, and could grow traffic by approximately 20%".

Unfortunately for Yahoo this is unlikely to completely stem the tide of difficult advertiser enquiries. Responses to Mayer's statement are certain to rear their ugly head - will advertisers in fact benefit from the increased numbers and will any of those potential Tumblr customers actually make a purchase?

It's an important point to consider should you be an advertiser, particularly after the initial backlash the announcement was met with from within the Tumblr community.

"Dear Yahoo, Please don't turn this safe haven into a data mine. Our thoughts are not for sale," posted one, adding: "We came here because we didn't want to be found. It was safe here. We could be ourselves.

"Purchasing this site will kill the core of what it is: the last remaining trace of humanity on the web."

Another user wrote: "So Yahoo is paying $1.1 billion for cat memes, porn and teenage girls with body image problems. They better not change Tumblr."

One Tumblr fan has gone as far as setting up an online petition with the aim of preventing the deal going ahead. "Stop Yahoo! from buying Tumblr!! If this happens, the entire interface will be changed, and millions of users will delete their accounts - me being one of them." the message reads.

"Please, please, please sign this to stop this!!"

Yahoo has effectively bet a billion pounds that advertisers won't act on their understandable concerns and buy up the company's ad inventory anyway, while the advertisers will continue to ask Yahoo the difficult questions.

One thing is certain, these kids will continue to bang their proverbial saucepans - all the while happy in the knowledge that their parents are fighting at the school gates.

Post written by Social Media & Content Manager Steven Owens

Paul Shepherd

I've worked in digital communications for around 15 years, and specialised in social media for the past three. Passionate about new technologies, media, and the impact it has on businesses bottom line, I try to bring that passion to every campaign for every brand we work with.