Monetize This

Tumblr Still Says No Way, No How On Ads

Promotion is the name of the game for this social network.
davidnomnom Tumblr Still Says No Way, No How On Ads

Mr. Karp's Avatar (davidslog.com)

Speaking of Tumblr: Today comes a little insight into how they plan to turn those 50 million blogs into real revenue, given the company’s well-known antipathy toward advertising. In short, expect more opportunities for both brands and individuals to rise to the top–for a small fee, of course.

CEO David Karp spoke to AdAge and revealed that, first off, outright ads are still a no-go. They could “very easily throw a Google Adsense on and be profitable tomorrow,” but “it’s a complete last resort.” Instead, Tumblr’s plan is to offer “a set of nuanced creative tools for users.” It’s not entirely clear from the interview, but from what he describes, it sounds like some or all of those would be paid features heavily focused on self-promotion. He calls highlighted posts “the first step of a few user-oriented promotion features,” and hints the directory is also coming back (though not immediately).

That sounds like an awfully attractive proposition for brands, but Mr. Karp is careful to push back against any impression that’s the ulterior motive. He points out they designed highlighted posts without thinking of brands and adds that if, for example, Vogue were to use the feature for everything they did, that  “would make the experience kind of crappy.”

Instead, the company sees its long-term monetization strategy as “a blend of both” user and brand-focused efforts. He explains:

It’s possible I’ll be singing a different tune in three months, but right now my thesis is that we can make these features better for everybody, more useful and friendly to brands who have different considerations than users … to design features that allow that brand to promote themselves and the unique features they do have. And give different tools to the aspiring photographers. I think those features can be different and be optimized for different uses.

We’ll just go right ahead and set a Gcal reminder for three months from now.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com