On Monday, Tumblr announced that is now serving ads in its iPhone and Android apps. The ads are native, taking the form not of banner ads but of posts marked by an animated dollar sign, which viewers can “like” and “reblog.” Users will see no more than four sponsored posts per day, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
The move allows Tumblr to take advantage of the rapidly growing mobile advertising market, forecast to increase by 65% to $2.1 billion in the U.S. alone this year. Tumblr’s mobile viewership is growing even more quickly, quadrupling in the last six months, according to the company. In a February interview with Mashable, Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp said he expects mobile traffic will overtake desktop traffic by early 2014 at the latest.
In the February interview, Karp said he didn’t think Tumblr would have a harder time monetizing its mobile traffic because the company builds its advertising on top of the same “atomic elements” as Tumblr itself. “On Tumblr there are no special brand pages, there are no Sponsored Stories,” Karp said. “There are blogs and there are posts. So as long as there are those elements and our mobile apps are getting better and better at displaying those atomic elements… We should be able to inject advertisements there in a way that’s really not disruptive and not interruptive.”
Six partners have signed on for the mobile ad launch, including ABC Entertainment and ABC Family, GE, Pepsi and Warner Bros. Warner Bros will be using the spots to promote their upcoming summer films The Great Gatsby and The Hangover Part III. GE will feature cinemagraphs of their jet engines and locomotives in their mobile sponsored posts.
In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Lee Brown, global head of sales at Tumblr, said the 6 year-old company expects to turn a profit for the first time this year — something these new mobile ad units should go some way towards achieving.
Do you think this move to introduce mobile ads will take away from the Tumblr experience? I understand that the company is trying to turn a profit but I wonder if the popularity of the site is directly linked to their lack sponsored content. As Facebook is finding out, users become turned off to a social media website when too much branding is involved so do you think that this is something that Tumblr should take into consideration? Maybe that is why they are limiting the number of sponsored posts a day so people still feel their privacy is protected. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.