Yahoo's Tumblr purchase a 'sign of desperation'

Yahoo's Tumblr purchase a 'sign of desperation'

Yahoo’s $1.1bn purchase of social blogging platform Tumblr has been heralded as brave, but one media expert argues the move may also be a “sign of desperation”.

The investment is proof Yahoo has “essentially given up on search”, according to Mindshare’s chief digital officer Ciaran Norris.

But he sceptical as to whether Tumblr will provide the tech player the much needed boost it requires.

Yahoo’s challenge now lays in monetising a platform who’s CEO, who is staying on board, once said advertising “really turns our stomachs”.

“Tumblr may well have a young audience that many advertisers crave, but it is also largely made up of user-generated content, as well as a lot of border-line or straight-up pornography, both of which make advertisers nervous,” Norris said in his B&T opinion piece.

“Young audiences also tend to be fickle, and there is already a lot of noise about users abandoning Tumblr now that it has been bought by the man, or the woman, in Mayer’s case.”

Tumblr generated just $13.3m in advertising last year.

If Yahoo! and chief executive Marissa Mayer are going to succeed in boosting that figure they need to find a way to keep users and Tumblr’s CEO happy while creating a brand-friendly site.

“If Mayer can do that, then Yahoo! may well have its very own YouTube, which Google bought for a similar amount back in 2006,” argued Norris.

“But it’s equally possible, if not more likely, that with its fickle audience and hard to monetise content, Tumblr will instead end up being another bebo, or Geocities 2.0.”

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