Tumblr for Marketing: How Effective is it For Brands?

Mark Mitchell

Mark is the managing director of MySocialAgency. He is a big traveller, major geek and massive music head. Mark likes to blog about social media strategy, SEO process and life hacking.

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Tumblr for Marketing: How Effective is it For Brands?
Photo by Tumblr

With Yahoo announcing in May their intention to buy blogging platform Tumblr, came the further news that the company is thinking of expanding advertising beyond the Tumblr dashboard and giving bloggers the opportunity to run Yahoo ads on their pages.

According to Yahoo, the blogging site currently has more than 300m unique monthly visitors and at the moment only shows ads in the core dashboard. Yahoo, who are thought to be paying $1.1bn for the acquisition, are set to change this so that users no longer have to be logged in to see ads.

So what does Tumblr have to offer to brands, in terms of engagement and advertising opportunities? And will it help to boost Yahoo back to its former glory and put the company on a par with social networks and search advertising?

Yahoo Won’t ‘Spoil’ Tumblr

Yahoo has said that it doesn’t intent to ‘screw up’ Tumblr, so its current status as a content network, as described by founder David Karp, should remain intact, with perhaps more advertising opportunities for brands thrown in.

However, that’s not to say that brands don’t currently utilise the site, because they do and that could be attributed to the rich content that is often posted on the site. Following a sit-down at the end of last year with some of the world’s biggest brands, Tumblr announced its intention to provide an analytics platform for the site, for brands and marketers.

This followed meetings with representatives from the likes of Adidas and Coca Cola, who pointed out that whilst most of their marketing campaigns on Tumblr had been a positive experience, they wanted analytics.

The upshot of this is the partnership between Tumblr and Union Metrics, which has resulted in a comprehensive analytics platform being created. The software accesses all of Tumblr’s data in order to provide information on:

  • Filtering to track blogs and topics
  • Analytics summary which show overall engagement and trends over a certain time period
  • Identification of the most influential contributors
  • Post analysis to target popular content
  • Post engagement analysis

Whilst Tumblr activity has been available in Google analytics for some time, the platform is much more useful to brands and it’s commonly thought this is an area in which social generally falls down.

It also shows that Tumblr were already looking at ways to increase advertising revenue before Yahoo jumped on board. This is evident in the first paid product for advertisers that was introduced late last year, as well as the hiring of a new head of global sales and some experimentation with big brand names.

What Does it Mean for Brands?

Whilst the 300m user numbers claimed by Yahoo may have been manipulated slightly, it’s clear that Tumblr has a big network to offer advertisers. However, last year, advertising revenue was a mere $13m, so despite Yahoo’s claims that the purchase will boost revenue by next year, there’s still work to be done yet.

For brands, it’s a good opportunity to reach an audience they otherwise may not. Tumblr tends to attract younger users, who are media-savvy and enjoy a sense of community. Those brands who want to tap into that audience should seriously consider using the site.

The visuals and content of the site give brands an opportunity to showcase products and content much in the same manner as Pinterest does, only with more words. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that it won’t suit every brand, as the demographics suggest that only brands that resonate with the young and hip will be successful.

Beta Ads

We’ll soon be in a position to discover just what Tumblr can offer to advertisers as the company quickly announced a boost to the amount of advertising it serves in the wake of the Yahoo announcement.

These will appear in newsfeeds, much like they do with Facebook, and will appear as ‘normal posts’. Whilst the ads are still in beta at the moment, it seems that the ads were a part of the package when it came to agreeing the Yahoo deal.

For the moment, there is an ‘entry fee’ of $200,000 for clients/brands to get 10 radar posts between May 21st and July 21st this year. The same clients also get 10 in-stream ads that will be targeted at US users.

The test will make for interesting reading when it appears and by then we should have a better idea on how Tumblr will be adapted to increase advertising revenue.