Should You Advertise on Tumblr?

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Controversy struck the microblogging world this week when Tumblr announced (and unveiled) its “sponsored content” that would start appearing on its mobile app starting... immediately. It makes sense, and, frankly, seems kinda overdue, although as a civilian I think it’s annoying.

But that’s immaterial to what we’re talking about here. Tumblr has a pretty loyal following and it’s unlikely the ads will shake people loose from using it — plus, here’s betting that some enterprising someone will find a way to jailbreak the Tumblr app to block all ads anyway.

But forgot I even said that!

Because I want to talk about whether advertising on Tumblr makes sense for you, and how you can do it.

As Tumblr’s sponsored content page indicates, the service has 141 million users taking in 17.5 billion pageviews per month.

Unless you’re a highly specialized start-up that makes sense in Tumblr’s context, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to risk shelling out to advertise there. Flipping through the app last night, I saw companies like GE and movies like The Great Gatsby (in 3D!) advertising between posts from people I follow. More specifically, I saw those same two ads repeated pretty much nonstop as I scrolled down. Both were using animated GIFs, which, if you have not heard, are the new viral video.

I could not find the exact number Tumblr charges, but I could find that Tumblr only allows advertisers “on its own terms and at a steep price point.”

And, as blog Eloqua also points out, “They’re designed to drive viewers to engage with a brand on Tumblr by liking, re-posting or following that brand’s own Tumblr content. In other words, the ads don’t lead people to a website, landing page or other outside site.”

It’s pretty unlikely a startup will find much use for that, but, hey, it’s worth a post to shake people of that notion before they start going down a very expensive path.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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