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Tumblr Purchased by Yahoo: What It Means for SEO, Social and Advertisers


May 21, 2013 by Ryan Miller

Yesterday’s acquisition of Tumblr by Yahoo could spell out some interesting new directions for both companies, especially where marketing, advertising and search is concerned and depending on just what Yahoo plans to do with their new toy.

Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Meyer has already taken to the platform with her own tumblr to post officially announce the purchase and to wax about the future of the two companies. She promises that Yahoo will “not to screw it up” and that Tumblr will operate independently with David Karp remaining as CEO. An admittedly fake Tweet is already ruffling the feathers of some longtime Tumblr users who think this is the end of their community, though there hasn’t been any concentrated exodus from the platform thus far.

yahoo-takes-tumblr-1Even if the company will remain independent, Yahoo will certainly be incorporating Tumblr into their universe. So what does this purchase mean for search, marketing and for advertisers? Taking a look for hints within Meyer’s post and some quotes around the web sheds a light on what we may soon see. In the realm of search, Meyer states:

Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!’s personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they’ll love. In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!’s media network and search experiences.

So there’s obviously been some thought as to where this content will be found in search. Yahoo has already announced plans to bring “relevant and personalized Tweets alongside stories from Yahoo” into their newsfeed. Tumblr could easily fit into that mold as well, with Yahoo showing users content from accounts they follow if they are logged in, highlighting trending or highly visible Tumblr posts in connection with searches being made or giving Tumblr a weighted lift in rankings. Maybe Yahoo sees Tumblr as their version of Google+, in the way that Google brings Google+ posts into search for logged in users?

If that is the case, content generators may have to reexamine how, when and if they employ Tumblr into their marketing, branding and SEO/SMO strategy. Tumblr is set up to be very SEO friendly, which is great, and allows users who have the patience and knowhow to fully customize their website to maximize their search visibility. Social functionality also makes it very easy to promote content. The inherent challenge with Tumblr and its core audience though is that it is a one-way door. You can bring in traffic, but it is very difficult to get them to leave Tumblr in the middle of session. Content developers both new and old will need to use Tumblr as a distinct site to engage their audience, rather than a stepping stone to push them through to another site. Here’s a sample of how some companies are doing this right now.

However, it is that one-way door mentality coupled with the fact that the average Tumblr user spends 14 minutes on the site per visit that could be very attractive to advertisers looking to build brand recognition. Meyer states that Yahoo and Tumblr “will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance user experience” and a sales pitch deck is already making the rounds showing off the possibilities.

The article and full deck are well worth reading all the way through, but in summary it appears that Yahoo’s primary approach will be to showcase advertising that doesn’t appear to look or feel like advertising. Instead, it will take the approach of displaying ads in the content stream that could very well look like it should naturally be there. This advertising is rumored to begin at any time.

yahoo-takes-tumblr-2If Meyer has her way, revenue-sharing display ads could also start popping up in the near future. Much like Google Adsense and Yahoo’s Contextual Ads, this will allow Tumblr bloggers to opt-in and show ads on their site, and then share the revenue. However, Karp has been vocal in the past about disagreeing with this form of advertising, and the prices and profits for this type of advertising have continued to decline in recent years making it less attractive.

However Yahoo moves forward with Tumblr, it will be worth paying very close attention to what they choose to do, both for marketers looking for new opportunities and to see if the purchase pays off for Meyer in her continuing attempt to rebrand and revitalize the company.


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