Refreshingly Subtle Advertising

I love Tumblr; I’ve been a happy blogger for the past two years. I was initially attracted to the blogging medium because I could gain access to some incredible artists and designers that I wouldn’t usually be able to track down on the internet. It also didn’t escape my notice that Tumblr was surprisingly ad-free, and promotions consisted of polite suggestions through Tumblr Radar – a feature showcasing the most interesting media on your network – and Spotlight, a section sampling hand-picked, talented creators. I actually find both quite helpful in broadening my creative cool list – thanks very much Tumblr!

Shine on Spotlight and Radar

In May of 2012, Tumblr decided to allow advertising options for both Radar and Spotlight (although Tumblr staff refused to call this advertising at the time). I must admit, I haven’t seen any of these ad-units on the right side of my dashboard, which may have been something to do with the hefty $25,000 entry price, designed to keep ‘less desirable’ advertisements away. Anyway, the bar was raised further as the advertising specification states that ads must align with the ‘visual nature’ of Tumblr. Wow, they weren’t really asking for much were they…

Aggressive Advertising

Fast forward nine months and the announcement to implement a more ‘aggressive strategy to get big brands to pay top dollar to reach its highly influential community’ suggests that the former venture was not such a big hit. Blaming personnel constraints for limited growth (they had three people managing advertising for goodness sake), Tumblr somehow managed to get a couple of big named campaigns under their belts with the likes of American Apparell, Adidas and Burberry; however now that they have set up a more robust sales team and an open-door policy, perhaps Tumblr ads will become a force to be reckoned with in 2013.

Burberry Tumblr

The small issue of the $25,000 fee remains, as does the assurance of creativity. Advertisers must conform to the blog format, meaning that they will contribute to the creative community just like every other blogger. And will their content be worth reblogging? Posting interesting messages and imagery doesn’t necessarily quantify immediate recognition. In the Tumblr community, as with all platforms, fresh, compelling content builds an audience, and brands must also become creative contributors to this community to achieve clients.

Are they on to a winner?

With a reported audience of 165.5 million people this month, will Tumblr be the way forward for advertisers wishing to connect with the consumer? So far they have been lagging behind their old rival Facebook in the money-stakes, and Twitter doesn’t discriminate against advertisers and is quite cheap in comparison at $15,000 all in. At the moment, only Radar appears on mobile devices, which means that they are still in the stages of development, so perhaps there is still a long way to go. What do you think? I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts – please leave any comments below.