Mr. Karp said that Tumblr has about 15 partnerships in which it
has used Radar to promote content from brands, including The
Cartoon Network, but that packaging it as an ad is an opportunity
to make a campaign "repeatable."
He began his announcement by quoting a 2010 interview he did
with The Los Angeles Times, in which he said: "We're pretty opposed
to advertising. It really turns our stomachs." He said he had
probably been an "idiot" to say so but that it was still a "fair
assessment of digital advertising."
While the Radar ad units represent the first time marketers will
be able to pay Tumblr to advertise on the platform, Mr. Karp touted
the creative ingenuity behind Tumblr accounts Capitol Couture (an
account to promote "The Hunger Games" that features top looks from
the fictional dictatorship); IBM's A Smarter
Planet; and his personal favorite, Warby Barker, an
account from Warby Parker, the online eyewear retailer, featuring
images of dogs in shades.
After praising the creative advertising already on Tumblr, Mr.
Karp took some not-so-subtle shots at the giants of the space,
calling Google and Facebook "devoid of creativity" in designing
boxy, often text-heavy ad units. He also noted that there's "no 140
characters, [and] no little box" in Tumblr Radar.
Radar placement gets 120 million impressions per day from users
logging into their dashboard across devices, Mr. Karp said. "You've
already seen our ad unit," he added.
Before he left the stage, his email address flashed on the
projector screen. "For anyone interested in doing anything creative
with us," he said.
Mr. Karp declined to say how much the Radar ads will cost and
who Tumblr's launch partners are for the unit, but fashion and media brands have been the earliest
and most fervent adopters of the platform.
Tumblr recently passed the 50-million-blog mark and has roughly
$125 million in funding (including an $85 million round last
September). It makes money by taking a cut from the sales of custom
blog themes created by designers and sold on the platform. This
winter it started enabling users to highlight posts for their
followers within their dashboards for $1.