Internet memes rarely amount to more than a fleeting laugh or two, but last week a Tumblr-based meme reached both the press and the highest levels of government. "Texts from Hillary," a Tumblr that began as a joke between two friends at a bar, became a national conversation about Secretary Clinton and even garnered a response from the ex-first lady herself.
And though every Tumblr creator may not gain enough exposure to earn an invitation to the State Department from Hill, there's still plenty of room for optimism. The numbers are staggering. Brands take note: with over 120 million users, 50 million blogs, 20 billion posts and 4.5 billion weekly impressions, Tumblr has reach and relevance. And while CEO David Karp initially cringed at the thought of advertising on Tumblr, numbers like that are hard to ignore.
Karp contends that while Tumblr was designed without brands in mind, they began showing up about a year and a half ago on the blog platform, particularly in the fashion and publishing categories. Since then, he and his team have been digging to find out what exactly these companies find valuable and how Tumblr can become more brand-friendly.
Karp announced today at the Ad Age Digital Conference that Tumblr will begin rolling out a new package of features for advertisers, starting with a tool for planting branded Tumblr posts into the blog's Radar feature. Radar, which gets 120 million impressions per day, highlights editorially selected posts in Tumblr's dashboard and exists as a space for brands to advertise both on the site and in Tumblr's mobile app.
The Radar ads will augment two already existing brand-friendly features. In February, Tumblr launched "highlighted posts," allowing Tumblr users to pay $1 per post and gain greater visibility for their work. Tumblr has also experimented with promoted directories, which enables users to achieve a top listing in Tumblr's blog directory. Brands like Huggies, J.Crew, Ann Taylor, and GQ are already finding ways to effectively reach consumers on the platform.
The Radar ad units will launch on May 2, but Karp's core goal for Tumblr is still all about empowering creativity for users. He has mentioned repeatedly that he has no interest in running traditional display ads, so brands will need to work on creating engaging content that is still organic to the Tumblr environment.