When Yahoo acquired bookmarking and tagging site del.icio.us in December, Yahoo’s Tim Mayer told ClickZ that the company would tread lightly when it came to making changes at del.icio.us, especially in regard to ads.
A Yahoo spokesperson reiterated that ideal this week, saying, “We have evaluated the del.icio.us experience since the acquisition and felt it was the right time to execute sponsored results to enhance the user experience. The ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Our number one goal is to create the best user experience and preserve the community. Eight months after the acquisition, del.icio.us remains true to its roots, both in look and feel and in what the brand stands for.”
The company made the move to add ads to Flickr soon after its acquisition last year, and caused a mild uproar from users. Flickr now has text ads on the search results pages and tag pages, with occasional ads as part of front-page sponsorships. In early August, Yahoo began adding text ads to search results pages on del.icio.us.
Steve Rubel, on his Micro Persuasion blog, said this could be a “dicey” move, but lauds Yahoo for taking it slowly.
I don’t think it’s that much of a risk for Yahoo. I think del.icio.us users, being Web-savvy, understand the trade-off inherent in getting something in exchange for putting up with ads. That being said, if they decide to move past the ads on search pages, and start showing ads targeted to users’ personal tags, I’d expect a few complaints. In the end, people will realize that nothing worth using is free, and the cost in this case is a minor annoyance, at worst.