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Brands can make low-key creative bets on Tumblr: David Karp

David Karp, Tumblr

David Karp, the 26-year founder of Tumblr, who sold the micro-blogging website to Yahoo! for USD 1.1 billion in May 2013, is making quite an effort to emphasise on the advertising community that his company is a great place for brands. He specified several parameters to indicate that Tumblr had much less in common than other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

The first point he made was that Tumblr did not publish stats like the other social networking sites. He also did not disguise his view on statistics publishing, which he found ‘really gross’.

Tumblr did not allow immediate positing of comments, was his second sell point, because this he believed discouraged “drive-by nastiness” that is seen on other social platforms such as YouTube. The initial interactions between Tumblr users are mainly in the form of questions. “The last thing content creators want is to be hit with ugly comments about their work. We had to keep the jerks out. It’s a little harder to be a jerk when you ask a question, because asking a question forces you to be more open minded,” he stated.

To hand it to Karp, some of these points would take away the fear that some brands have about not gathering enough numbers or getting the right responses. But the question here perhaps is whether this argument would attract brands that like to boast about the numbers and the audience response without really having to do so every time they talked about it.

Karp also pointed out that Tumblr did not insert brands into a user’s social interactions like Facebook and Twitter do. Brands had to create content to be able to leverage the Tumblr platform well. He went on to cite examples such as Lincoln Motor, Lion’s Gate and Old Spice to state that there was place for brands to experiment on Tumblr.

In effect, Karp had done enough homework to prove to brands and marketers that Tumblr was worth a shot.

While addressing the audience, Karp also lauded the creative community for the breakthrough thinking they brought to the table, and said, “You guys are more talented than anyone in the Tumblr office or in Palo Alto or Sunnyvale. We’re constantly in awe and in service.”

Karp’s pitch did not limit to just encouraging agencies and brands to bring their advertising to Tumblr; he also wanted to ensure that the platform was able to create award winning work. Giving some advice to brands on that front, he said, “Brands need to find out what people love, and give that to them. “If you’re not authentic and give people the content they care about, then your output tends to be worse.”

Post its deal with Yahoo! Tumblr is doing more than its usual share to drive advertising revenue, and being present at Cannes Lions was one of the steps in that direction. Not only was Tumblr sponsoring drinks at the famous Gutter Bar but it was also interacting with brands and agency professionals. Karp’s final hope was that next year, brands would be winning Lions for work created on Tumblr.