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Now put Tumblr in your branding plan

After scorning advertising as a mode of earning revenues, Tumblr CEO David Karp has finally decided to allow brands to talk to consumers through sponsored ads. After claiming “We’re pretty opposed to advertising,” in an interview two years ago, Karp had announced early this year that the trendy blogging company is looking at “novel approaches to revenue” instead of accepting any and every ad. Karp and his Tumblr team has announced the launch of two advertising products to brands; they can get on to Tumblr on one condition – a minimum sponsorship commitment of $25,000.

David Karp, Tumblr

Once approved – this is a key strategy that Tumblr will be following to keep out junk ads (as they say) – the advertisers and agencies need to pay for content placement and brand exposure through the Tumblr Radar and Tumblr Spotlight. With Radar, which pushes 120 million impressions per day, sponsors can be featured on the right hand margin of the dashboard. This is done through a curation engine that spotlights top and interesting posts in the network. Meanwhile Tumblr Spotlight is like a member directory – the area where members go to find new people to follow. Here sponsors can be featured in a large display above highlighted members.

Tumblr has recently passed the 50-million-blog mark with around 55 million unique visitors and has roughly $125 million in funding. Till now the company has been making money by taking a cut from the sales of custom blog themes created by designers and sold on the platform. It had also recently started allowing its users to highlight their posts with their dashboards for $1.

Industry reports say that this selective advertising strategy has been adopted to keep out small, and often in effective advertising. This is a move away from what social media giant Facebook and Google do. However spokesperson at Tumblr promises its advertisers new followers and much focussed exposure through promotional placements. The company plans to work with select set of advertisers who can promise large sponsorship money. According to the company, this strategy will ensure that the 55 million users of Tumblr get a high quality experience, and the brands get the focus audience they want.

In fact, unlike Facebook and Google which often have heavy uninspiring, text heavy, box advertisements, Tumblr is asking its sponsors to use the blogging platform to tell the brand story in a creative and effective way. According to the company, creativity will be key here for sponsors to engage with the users. The focus industries for Tumblr will be automotive, fashion, and consumer goods to begin with.

In a space where Facebook, Google and Yahoo! already have an edge, is Tumblr a little late in entering? We think not. This is because social media as a branding option is a topic of much debate, but not many brands have leveraged this phenomenon yet. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube have already been setting the stage. They have actually made more and more brands comfortable with the idea of social media marketing. In fact announcing the ad products now (when the brands are looking for more innovative ways to cut through the social media clutter) is a clever strategy by Tumblr.

It can expect a faster acceptance of its offerings despite the high price because of the sheer visual aspect of the blogging site. Moreover industry watchers feel that fashion brands will be one of the first takers of the new ad products – we feel that it will be Radar, which is Karp’s personal favourite, and he calls the platform ‘creative advertising’. Radar gives the brands an opportunity to tell the story through captivating images. Radar is already popular with many brands and users as a platform to promote their products and services.

We expect to see a slow build of Tumblr’s ad platforms because the site does not collect data on the users or does demographic analysis yet (we also expect that to change soon); however it promises its advertisers a platform to create campaigns based on pictures, video and text for compelling users to look.