Mobile Ads Come To Tumblr, Profits Expected
March 6, 2013

Mobile Ads Come To Tumblr, Profits Expected

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Six-year-old blogging platform Tumblr has become a home to the meme, often the first place people go to capitalize on a moment in popular culture or current events. Up until six months ago, ads were absent from the site.

Now, Tumblr plans to not only bring ads to their mobile product, but they also expect to make their first annual profit because of it. Advertising is often a scary word in social networking circles, something akin to mom and dad interrupting a sleepover and insisting everyone work on their book reports instead. Yet, Tumblr has found a clever work around for these ads which doesn´t hinder the organic flow of the site, and according to the company's executives, this approach is working.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Tumblr´s Vice President Derek Gottfrid said advertisers will be able to reach customers via their mobile app in the first half of the year.

The social network has been testing these ads in-house and are happy with the results. With the number of mobile users quadrupling in the past 6 months, Tumblr´s team is eager to begin rolling out these ads when they´re at their peak value. Tumblr is taking a different stance in selling these ads, however.

Rather than sell space on a screen, advertisers are responsible for creating their own Tumblr feeds and content. The companies then pay Tumblr to make these posts stand out amongst the rest, earning a spot on the uncluttered right column of the user´s Dashboard. This encourages the advertisers to fit in with the rest of the community and look for new and refreshing inspiration for their ads.

Advertisers have plenty to model themselves after. Currently, there are 96.8 million blogs hosted on Tumblr. The ease with which a user can set up a blog is key to this high number. As it is so easy, there are a great number of blogs which revolve around one joke or meme.

For example, when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney uttered the words “binders full of women” during last year´s campaign, Tumblr users were quick to attack, creating pages dedicated to pictures (doctored or otherwise) of women in binders.

Social friendly Target has long maintained a page on the blogging platform. When Tumblr first began running these ads on the desktop version of their site, Target was quick to respond. One part Tumblr and four parts Pinterest, this page is dedicated to the latest fashions sold at the retail giant.

Just like a “normal” Tumblr, these posts are meant to be shared with other networks like Facebook, Twitter and, of course, Pinterest. Users can also “heart” a post, the Tumblr equivalent to a Facebook Like or a Twitter Favorite. The links to buy the items depicted in the posts are small and unobtrusive, resting in small italic and underlined links underneath the post.

Brands such as Adidas and Coca-Cola are also jumping on board and promoting their own Tumblr-friendly advertising pages.

Lee Brown, head of sales at Tumblr, says companies pay “just under six figures” to have their posts promoted by the site. According to Cnet, businesses need to spend a minimum of $25,000 to begin receiving the added exposure to their Tumblr pages.

By the end of the year, Brown expects these ads will make Tumblr profitable for the first time in the company´s brief history. These ads are expected to begin appearing on Tumblr´s mobile apps in the next few months, and only time will tell how well users take to these new ads. It is refreshing, however, to see a social networking site take a different approach to advertising and monetization.