Social Media

Hey Yahoo!, Here Are 3 Ways You Can Keep Your Promise to Tumblr

May 20, 2013

How did Yahoo! announce its $1.1 billion deal to acquire Tumblr?  With a GIF, of course.

In a blog post promising not to “screw up” Tumblr, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer announced that her company would be acquiring the platform, home to more than 100 million millennial creators, GIFs and adorable animals.

The web is buzzing about whether Yahoo! will be able to keep its promise to maintain the integrity of the Tumblr user experience – but what about the positives the media giant could bring to the platform?

As ‘A-List’ partners with Tumblr and big fans of the platform ourselves, we’re inviting the folks at Yahoo! to think about how they can make this new pairing awesome for everyone on board, GIFs and all. Here are three ways Yahoo! can keep its promise:

  1. Continue Karp’s native advertising model with tags and dashboard.When Tumblr introduced advertising to the platform last year, Founder & CEO David Karp explained to users that they’d “already seen [Tumblr’s] ad unit,” referring to the millions of posts uploaded to Tumblr every day. Tumblr’s foray into native advertising has so far been successful, enabling brands to promote a piece of content in the Tumblr Radar (shown on the sidebar for all users) for 24 hours. The Yahoo! deal could help bring more offerings faster, and make them more relevant to users without plastering blogs with ads.

    *Tags: As 360i CEO Bryan Wiener notes in the Wall Street Journal, “Tags are a huge part of Tumblr culture, and one of the biggest vehicles for content discovery on the platform.” Yahoo! could use its muscle to allow brands to sponsor content featured in tags like #Fashion #GIF or #LOL. This is a format that advertisers already use and respect – and as is the case with Promoted Tweets, tags would help filter more relevant content to users without advertising on the blogs themselves.

    *Dashboard: Similarly, offering limited content in the users’ dashboards, based on interest and engagement, could offer up more targeted content without cluttering the dashboards with an onslaught of irrelevant ads. In fact, Mayer noted that “light” dashboard ads are indeed part of the plan during a May 20 conference call.

  2. Use your search background to help out with targeting.Yahoo! could use its technology to improve Tumblr’s search functionality, which would be a boon for users and advertisers alike. In offering more robust search functionality – by keywords as well as tags, date and popularity – Tumblr could also potentially sell promoted content within search. Beyond that, another bonus would be to help offer age and location targeting – for both content and ads, which would open the platform up to new kinds of advertisers.
  3. Give back to the world’s creators by funding content.Tumblr calls itself home to “the world’s creators” and certainly has the user base to back it up. Could this new deal help fund some of those creators getting a start on the platform, similar to what YouTube has done to fund video creators? This would be a strong move on Yahoo!’s part to prove the legitimacy of its desire to not “screw it up,” as well as pay homage to the users who helped make this deal possible.


This deal with Yahoo! signals a new era for Tumblr. It’s no longer the niche platform filled with quirky GIFs, hipster pets and beautiful artwork. It’s now a social media giant that everyone is paying attention to – and yes, that is still filled with quirky GIFs.

Cover photo via Guardian