Seeking Ad Revenue, Tumblr Picks Group of Preferred Agency Partners

Tumblr Wants to Steer Brands to Shops That Understand the Platform

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Seven months after it introduced its nascent ad business, Tumblr's inevitable courtship of agencies has begun.

The blogging platform today launched a page where it casts a spotlight on a preferred group of creative agencies, media agencies, "theme specialists" who design the themes for Tumblr pages, and technology providers. It's a cross-section that includes digital agencies like AKQA, Deep Focus and 360i, as well as Horizon Media and content-curation platform Percolate. An introduction at the top says these partners are "fully equipped with the right tools to provide their clients the ultimate Tumblr experience."

draping tumblr
draping tumblr

Tumblr's singling out of the agencies that it deems competent enough to deliver ads successfully on its platform makes sense in light of its historic attitude toward advertising relative to the consumer experience. When it first unveiled its "Radar" ads in April at Ad Age 's Digital Conference, CEO David Karp flashed his email address onto the projector screen and then said "anyone interested in doing anything creative with us" should contact him.

Revenue consultant Rick Webb also played up the importance of creativity in Tumblr ads during a presentation at the IAB's MIXX Conference last month, noting that animated GIFs have thus far worked best for brands advertising on the platform, since they're essentially embracing its culture and aesthetic.

Selecting preferred agency partners is faintly similar to what Facebook has done in designating "preferred marketing developers" for serving ads or managing content, since it sends a message to brands that these are the companies that are equipped to excel at what they do. More recently, Twitter unveiled "certified products" in the categories of analytics, engagement and data resale. But in the cases of Facebook and Twitter, the certified companies were developing software specifically for use on those platforms, whereas Tumblr's selection seems more subjective, since it's largely an acknowledgement of creatives who have a feel for its user base.

The timing of Tumblr looking to steer more brands to agencies also makes sense in light of the fact that more dollars now seem to be in play. At an Advertising Week panel last month, Tumblr's director of product and partnerships Danielle Strle said ad packages were starting at $25,000.

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