Tumblr’s been in the headlines this week, as has Spotify, and it turns out the two are now partners. But it’s CEO David Karp’s turn-about regarding advertising that’s spinning heads, as his former resistance morphs into “a set of nuanced creative tools for users” a.k.a. “highlighted posts,” ak.a. heavily promoted self-promotional features that Tumblr users pay $1 for, to gain higher visibility for their work.
Eschewing an all-out embrace of ads as ads, Karp told Ad Age in a comprehensive interview, “we could very easily throw a Google Adsense on and be profitable tomorrow -- that's so far down the list, I mean, we're selling our desks to avoid that, it's a complete last resort.”
With 20 billion posts, 50 million blogs, 120 million users and about 4.5 billion impressions a week, "there’s gold there in them blogs for advertisers." Karp says the new features are part of a long-term monetization strategy with a blend of user and brand-focused efforts.
“There are two in production -- the highlight posts and the ability to purchase and sell themes,” says Karp. As for brands, “We designed it without brands in mind, trying to work it in such a way that it makes it clear that this isn't the killer feature for you. We're not expecting Vogue to spend a buck on every one of their posts to make it stand out. In fact, that would make the experience kind of crappy.”
Karp maintains his brand’s core commitment to creativity. “We are one of the few tech companies that cares about creators. We are not trying to build a network but we’re giving people a way to express themselves. I’m hoping in the next one or two years, we will prove we are company that is bent on helping them do great shit,” he told GigaOm.
Tumblr recently posted a job title for API lead to work with outside developers and envisions “a big marketplace where developers can sell designs and templates with Tumblr taking a cut similar to what Apple makes in its App Store,” notes GigaOm.
Citing the iPod as an ideal product, Karp adds, “We go to great lengths to not compromise what’s special about Tumblr. In everything we do, we rack our brains to not try and screw up the magic of what Tumblr is.”
Tumblr reaped a little more magic this week courtesy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who posted real life “Texts from Hillary” in response to a blog from two guys that “started as a joke at the bar between two friends” and “turned into a national conversation about Secretary Clinton and went as far as talks about 2016.”