Tumblr founder David Karp has famously stated that part of the reason for the microblogging and social networking site’s wild success was due to its attractive design that was “unpolluted” by advertising.
Since then, Yahoo purchased Tumblr for about $1.1 billion. At a 4As Conference session in Los Angeles on Monday, Robb Norman, chief digital officer at GroupM, asked Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer how she planned to recoup the investment.
A froggy-throated Mayer, who seemed to be battling a case of laryngitis, replied that advertising would be part of the formula for making the investment pay off. The challenge, she said, will be to create ads for the platform that are “as creative and compelling as the content” on it.
Mayer said that ads will work well on Tumblr. As home to millions of blogs, “it’s a great storytelling platform.” Tumblr, she added, is a “community of creators ... there is nothing as creative as advertising.”
Mayer’s appearance at the 4As conference came a few months after she dismissed the company’s COO, Henrique De Castro, who had been tasked with improving the media company’s relationship with Madison Avenue.
Mayer will be more involved going forward in selling Adland on the attributes of her company. With an audience of agency executives at her session, Mayer wasn’t shy about touting the media portal as deserving of Madison Avenue’s support.
Just as agencies and marketers are trying to determine the best ways to optimize mobile for ad messages, mobile is a core focus of Yahoo, said Mayer, noting that the media company has 400 million mobile users each month. And it has a team of 500 engineers dedicated to evolving the company’s mobile offering. Social, search and mail are also priorities, she said -- along with the development of original content, much of which will take the form of digital magazines.
Yahoo Food, for example, is “off to a great start,” said Mayer. Knorr is a sponsor that has done native advertising with the magazine.
Yahoo introduced an ad marketplace last month called Gemini that combines native and mobile search engine advertising. Mayer told the 4As audience that bringing the two together provides a more efficient way for advertisers to optimize their mobile search and native ad spending.
Norman asked Mayer whether the company was allowing its programmatic offering to “atrophy,” following the decision earlier this year to retire its Right Media brand. She responded that that was not the case at all. Yahoo would be introducing a number of programmatic tools in the first half of this year.
That said, she stressed that advertisers should not confuse programmatic with discounted ads. “The opposite of programmatic is manual, not premium,” she said.