Tag Archives: Tumblr

Yahoo buys Tumblr. Keep calm and reblog on?

Yahoo buys Tumblr. Keep calm and reblog on?

Yahoo’s board has approved a $1.1 billion all-cash deal to buy Tumblr, a New York City-based technology company.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer tweeted that this is the first acquisition announced by an animated GIF and promised “not to screw it up,” keeping the team in place and offering support and integration, not re-invention. Yahoo famously acquired delicious, Flickr and Upworthy, amongst other hot online properties, only to let them moulder. Many users still haven’t forgiven Yahoo for its 2009 decision to close Geocities, an popular online community from the 1990s, without archiving it.

Tumblr CEO David Karp tumbled the news and sought to allay user concerns: “We’re not turning purple,” he wrote. “Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing.”

$1.1 billion dollars is a lot of money for a (re)blogging network with tens of millions of users but scant revenue but it buys Yahoo a foothold in mobile social networking and, at least for the moment, many more young users — as long as the community doesn’t flee.

That’s likely one reason that both CEOs took such lengths to be reassuring this morning. Mayer joined Tumblr and has been posting cheeky animated GIFs that allude to seamier side of the social blogging service.

In the months ahead, Tumblr users will see more ads — “native ads” and dashboard ads from Yahoo’s ad network and perhaps in-line ads on the mobile app — much as Facebook users do. That’s no surprise, although finding the right mix of relevancy, frequency and intrusiveness for mobile advertising will be a delicate dance.
Mayer says that the two companies will work together to create “advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance user experience.”

It will be interested to see if that means more sponsored posts and advertorial from “brand journalists” and corporate media writing for business tumblrs. John Battelle’s looks at on displays, streams and native advertising concludes that this move gives Yahoo “an asset that its branded display sales force can sell as sexy: native, content-driven advertising at scale.”

In an attention economy, ads need to be independently entertaining on their own to avoid the click away or being tuned out by the glazed, jaded eyes of young people exposed to an unprecedented bath of media before adulthood.

That’s a dynamic that WordPress founder Matt Mullenwag alluded to in a comment on his post on “Yahooblr“:

In an advertising business a lot of it comes down to attention: how much and where advertisers spend to get your attention usually lags 3-5 years from where people are actually spending their time, and when that gap closes it can be very impressive. Of course it doesn’t happen for free, there are lots of organizational changes needed to execute on that opportunity, and probably as many people screw it up as get it right.

I believe there is also an even-larger-than-advertising opportunity around subscriptions and products. The big shift from older forms of media is that people aren’t just passively consuming as they might in front of a TV, they’re creating. It’s a hobby and a passion, not a vice. In that context I think subscriptions are more aligned with users than advertising, and that’s the direction Automattic is pointed in.

The big question most technology pundits and business analysts will be asking today is whether this makes sense for Yahoo and puts them on a stronger course. The initial market reaction put Yahoo stock up nearly 1% at 11 AM.

On a personal note, I expect to keep tumbling, though I find WordPress to be a superior blogging platform. That said, my attention is spread across many different social platforms and media organizations, not to mention my inbox and iPhone.

If I’m confronted by too many ads on the Tumblr mobile app, I’m going to spend less time consuming and creating there. I’m sure I’m not alone.

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May 20, 2013 · 11:00 am

New digital journalism tools and platforms to connect, present and inspire

“It doesn’t have to be like this,” said Alexis Madrigal. “You don’t have to write bad stuff to get people to come to a website”
Tonight at the August meeting of the Online News Association in D.C., +Madrigal shared several of the tools that he’s been experimenting with to connect with his audience and rethink the way he shares information in his work as senior editor at the Atlantic Monthly.

You can find his digital journalism at www.theatlantic.com/alexis-madrigal and on Twitter at @alexismadrigal.

I’ve been reading his book on green energy, “Powering the Dream,” over the past few months. It’s excellent. Alexis also co-founded longshot magazine and wrote for Wired for years.

Given that context, when he talks about the digital tools that he’s using for work and the new applications or platforms that he’s experimenting with online these days, I paid attention. Here’s the breakdown of some of the tools he shared tonight.

First, Google Forms. Alexis described them as “frictionless, easy to set up, and then pull into spreadsheet. He referenced Amanda Michel‘s work using them in her crowdsourcing work at ProPublica.

Second, SoundCloud. That was a new one to me. Time to experiment.

Third, Twitter. This one was not new to me. Alexis said Twitter worked very well for Longshot. He did, however, say “the retweet is dying.” There’s an issue of splitting the incentive model, between “native” vs “manual” RTs, and tracking. Alexis said that he’s noticed all around that retweeting is way down, which has made Twitter less effective.

So, off to explore new places.

One such platform is Tumblr. The problem, said Madrigal, is that Tumblr has its own ecosystem. (I agree with this.) There’s no natural move over from another social media platform, he said, and that sad fact is that you have to put in the same damn work, and then see what moves. On that count, they’ve brought in curator to the Atlantic video channel who’s deeply immersed in the culture but it’s still challenging.

Another new destination is Google Plus. Alexis likes Plus conceptually, given how it allows back and forth, but doesn’t know exactly what he’s going to do with it yet. Alexis said he has largely left Facebook and streamlined his social media use. His Google Plus use went way up during the first couple of days and then leveled out. Now he needs to decide what to do with it. (I know the feeling). Alexis is experimenting with “The Atlantic Tech Plus,” which he described as a behind the scenes look at what his team is working on. He’s not sure what’s next. The digest has driven little traffic to date, but Alexis feels like he “has to be here and know how it works.”

Alexis moved from tools for publishing or sharing to presentation tools. He’s interested in timed slideshows and made the analogy that they’re like “full bleed” in a magazine. He used to think they’re just a way to get pageviews but now he thinking that they’re “a way to get content horizontally. ”

Two points here: beautiful tools are awesome and people are limiting themselves in the way they think about them. In that context, Alexis wants to exploit the behavior readers exhibit in compulsive clicking through a slideshow for good. This sort of thing is “gamification,” though Alexis notes that they just ran a story “called gamification is BS.”

Given this list of of tools, I asked him about Facebook for journalism. Alexis said that he chose to keep who he is as a person vs his work separate there. He hasn’t started a Page but knows people like science writer Steve Silberman who have had “wonderful generative conversations there.”

Finally, Alexis shared two sites that are doing work that can push us to think differently about what an editorial product can be online.

DomusIT (http://domusweb.it) is an Italian art magazine website worth looking at because of its vibrant, colorful and dynamic design:

Zeega (http://zeega.org) is a next generation content management system. Zeega pushes website design to a “crazy extreme,” with HTML5 in fully full bleed experience, including video, animations. Alexis suggested that Zeega can enable a different kind of publication online, something “more magazine-y” and interesting. Less cookie cutter. He expects that this or something like it will open up a new way of telling stories.

We’ll see! I know I have some new places and platforms to explore, along with Twitter, Google, Plus and Tumblr. The lesson that Alexis drew from turntable.fm is that “feeling like the Internet is alive is awesome.” I’ll drop by tomorrow.

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