Want to Advertise on Tumblr? Probably Should Create Some Cool GIFs

Advertising That Works On Tumblr Looks Like Content That Works ... on Tumblr

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It's been five months since microblogging platform Tumblr launched its first foray into paid advertising. What's worked best for advertisers so far? The same type of content that is most popular on Tumblr: namely, images and animated GIFs -- an image format that captures and displays a few seconds of movement, according to Rick Webb, Tumblr's revenue consultant, who presented at the IAB's MIXX conference in New York today.

"Brands are taking part … in the culture that 's going on," he said of the platform's early advertisers.

On May 2, Tumblr began letting advertisers pay for placement on Radar, the square unit on users' dashboards that Tumblr has used for the last four years to highlight popular images and content from across the Tumblr network of 75 million blogs. Mr. Webb, who's also a co-founder of the Barbarian Group, said Tumblr is opening up about 10% of Radar inventory to advertisers. He didn't say how high that percentage would grow in the future. Users can like or reblog the image from their dashboard or click through to the source post.

In an interview after his presentation, Mr. Webb said Tumblr is recommending that advertisers use Radar to promote posts that feature images or GIFs because these are the posts that result in the most engagement actions -- likes, reblogs and follows.

Ad packages start at $25,000, Tumblr's Director of Product and Partnerships Danielle Strle said at a panel discussion on Wednesday.

One of the first brands to advertise on Tumblr was Adidas, which unveiled a month-long campaign in June. Mr. Webb said the platform has also been popular for movie promotion, citing an ad for "The Expendables 2." Coca-Cola has also advertised, simply with an animated GIF of a spinning Coke bottle, and so has the MTV show "Awkward" and American Apparel.

Tumblr also lets advertisers pay to reserve space on Tumblr's Spotlight section, which organizes Tumblr blogs by category. This is about as targeted as Tumblr advertising gets right now. While many internet upstarts are focused on highly-targeted advertising, Tumblr seems to be at least initially focused on broad-based advertising buys aimed at reaching as many Tumblr users as possible.

"We don't really know anything about our users," Mr. Webb said, adding that Tumblr only collects email addresses and birth dates. "And we don't really care," he added. "We will give you great content and you will find it on your own."

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