Remember when Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013? Yahoo appears to finally be doing something with it.
On Wednesday, at Yahoo’s Mobile Developer Conference in New York City, the purple platform announced that it will integrate in-app sharing links via Tumblr into the Flurry SDK via its Mobile Developer Suite.
It’s pretty much just deep-linking with a twist.
Basically, developers will be able to add "share to Tumblr" buttons within their apps, which will automatically reblog in-app content to a user's Tumblr page. When people later click on that content within Tumblr, they're deep-linked right back into the original app experience. If they don't yet have the app in question installed, they're taken over to the app store to download it.
The goal is to garner more content sharing for Tumblr, while driving app downloads and traffic for developers.
The twist comes in the form of analytics. Using Tumblr via the Flurry SDK will show devs what’s happening to their content once it leaves their app, including likes, clicks and Tumblr reblogs.
“People go to Tumblr to consume content – they don’t just go to Tumblr to chat among each other,” said Yahoo SVP of publishing products, and former Flurry CEO, Simon Khalaf.
John Gronberg, senior product manager for Yahoo App Publishing and the guy in charge of the in-app sharing product, pointed to content amplification as the big value prop, although one developer AdExchanger chatted with at the show said the jury is out on what the value will be, noting that the proof will be in the actual traffic and download numbers.
It’s fair to say, however, that engagement is high on the roughly 250 million blogs that make up the Tumblr ecosystem. Users create around 85 million post per day and the average mobile user opens the Tumblr app seven times each day. Around 720,000 apps use the Flurry SDK.
The Tumblr demographic is also highly social, with 20% of Tumblr’s users falling between the ages of 18 and 29, according to the Pew Research Center’s recent study into mobile messaging and social media adoption. That demo is what formed a large part of Yahoo’s original attraction to the platform in the first place, said Tumble CEO and founder David Karp.
PicsArt, a creative development app with 250 users – basically Photoshop for mobile – will be Yahoo’s launch partner for the in-app sharing product.
AdExchanger sat down with Khalaf to dig deeper into Yahoo’s plans for its $1.1 billion baby.
Why haven’t we heard more from Tumblr over the years?
SIMON KHALAF: Tumblr started as a blogging platform. But when was the last time that a consumer went to a mobile browser and typed in www.something.com? What you’ve seen Tumblr do is not only survive, but thrive, in the shift to mobile. To go from a pure web platform to a pure mobile and app platform took about 18 months. Now that we have a solid mobile base, you’re going to start seeing faster growth and innovation as a pure mobile play.
What is the vision for Tumblr?
People discover content by sharing, and discovery is happening in applications, Tumblr being one of them. It’s a content-for-traffic value exchange. This will pump a lot content into Tumblr and pump a lot of traffic into the apps.
What about paid media beyond sponsored posts?
From the first day, Tumblr has been about native ads. But we are maturing. Since then, we added CPI, for example, a native sponsored post that eventually prompts you to install an app. A lot of the other ad units that Yahoo has innovated through Gemini are coming to Tumblr as well. The Tumblr ecosystem will also grow outside of the Tumblr app. If you are in an application and you see a Tumblr sponsored post there, it will send you back to Tumblr. In this way, we create a bidirectional highway between Tumblr and the app ecosystem.
What makes the in-app sharing product different from classic deep-linking?
Rather than focusing on the app – promoting PicsArt or Instagram or Expedia, for example – we focus on the content inside the app. Most traffic acquisition managers want to promote traffic to specific content within apps. The deep link makes that possible, and we create them automatically. The moment a consumer shares, we create the link and register it. You don’t have to have someone manually indexing all of the pages.
And, of course, the analytics is huge. How much traffic are you bringing me? What is the quality of that traffic? It’s all in front of you. It’s measurable advertising.
That said, it seems like this product wouldn’t work for all verticals – utilities, for example.
It’s true. Tumblr is about media consumption and entertainment, gaming, especially. The verticals that have a lot of visuals will adopt this en masse.
Utilities, productivity – those are categories that will probably be excluded. Also, vanity. When you want to brag about something, that is where Facebook is good. Tumblr is more about evergreen content that will be shared.
But a huge portion of time spent in apps come from utilities. Brand retailers, for example, are struggling to gain app traction. (Although Amazon is an exception.) How will that fact impact the potential traffic that Tumblr can help generate?
Shopping has become a full-time activity. Amazon is where you go when you know what you want to buy. There is not a lot of window shopping on Amazon. They have modeled the app toward the transaction, not toward what I call the entertainment part of shopping.
I agree that retailers are struggling with the mobile app economy because they see it as a cash register. They don’t see it as a shopping experience, but those who do are actually doing a very good job. When retailers realize that the application is a store in your pocket, then they’ll start thinking about how to drive traffic into the app. They’re not at that stage yet. I believe they’re five years away from it.
How should brands consider Tumblr?
Think of it as the epicenter of creative branding. This isn’t where you test a commercial or a brand initiative. There are some brand blogs on Tumblr that are so creative, like Nutella.
Teenagers and millennials don’t want a Hollywood-produced commercial spot from the Super Bowl. That’s not what they’re engaging with. They don’t want a message created for 100 million people. They want a message created to them.
How are you shaking the old-school Yahoo image?
There is no way we can hide it. We rang the bell at NASDAQ today – where we listed 20 years ago. We were one of the first Internet brands to list. We’re still here and we’re probably going to stay. How do you take a brand and cater to the folks who were with us from day one, who are now in their late 40s and early 50s, and cater to 18-year-olds? It’s a challenge. But to me, you build cool products and people will love your brand. We’re a cool brand and we’ll come back to life in a big way.