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Tumblr’s mobile-only native ad strategy may just click. Here’s why

Yahoo-owned blogging platform, Tumblr, has soft launched a new native mobile ad platform – Sponsored Trending Blogs – that promotes its blogs from advertisers to users navigating the Explore tab in the Tumblr app for iOS and Android. This is Tumblr’s fifth ad product and its second tailored just for mobile. David Karp, the 26-year old founder is making quite an effort to emphasise on the advertising community that this company is a great place for brands.
Native mobile advertising on the rise
Research firm BIA/Kelsey estimates that ad spend on the social platform is poised to reach over USD 10 billion by 2017. Interestingly, up to 40 per cent of those outlays will go towards native ads. Considering its high visual appeal and rich, relevant content placement, native ads are considered one of the best ways to connect with consumers, rather than the display banner ads. Twitter had started the native-social ad trend with Promoted Tweets as early as 2010. On Facebook, native ads in the News Feed generate 49 times higher click-through rates and a 54 per cent lower cost-per-click than traditional placements in the display advertising option on the right-rail sidebar. LinkedIn is making major investments in its native strategy and Pinterest recently piloted native ads on its platform.
In-stream native ads look, feel, and function seamlessly across mobile and PC, which is precisely what brands want, as they seek to build cross-device campaigns. According to experts, native advertising is the future of social media marketing, and may soon make display ads on social media platforms, redundant. The extension of native ads on the mobile platform has been seen as a challenge by the marketers, but social media is coming up with innovative ways to help solve this.
Tumblr’s commitment to mobile advertising
Tumblr’s introduction of a second mobile-only, native ad platform speaks of its emphasis on this medium. Earlier this year, Tumblr had kickstarted promotion of blogs and posts from advertisers on its mobile app. With an improvement over this, the new Sponsored Trending Blogs ad offering will make users notice promoted blogs in the Explore feed. Brands such as Turner Broadcasting, Delta, Twentieth Century Fox, Calvin Klein, and Sony Pictures Entertainment are already part of the beta-testing. The new ads are native to Explore, possessing the exact look and feel of other trending blogs featured in the mobile feed. The only difference is a subtle dollar sign icon denoting that the featured blog is promoted by an advertiser.
Why will it work for Tumblr?
In the social media platform, with the help of native advertising, brands are getting humanised. This creates a very relevant and engaging medium to connect with consumers. Tumblr has its interface and demographics just right. With 67 per cent of users below the age of 35, it becomes the platform where the youth hangs out – a must-explore destination for brands. Also, 50 per cent of content being photographs, Tumblr becomes a clear case of being an innovative addition in the mobile marketing mix of brands. The percentage of users logging in to Tumblr via mobile is also increasing. Traditionally Tumblr steered clear of banner ads, making the interface clean and visually rich, thus native advertising by brands need to display the WOW factor in order to stand differentiated and gain eyeballs. Getting this right on a mobile platform, is what brands need to now concentrate on, keeping in mind the user interface of Tumblr.
Aside from advertising, the company has experimented with allowing users to pay to expose their posts to a wider audience on Tumblr. It adds over 100 million posts a day. It is currently home to about 153 million blogs with more than 68 billion posts.