Tumblr will sell ads, as David Karp settles his stomach

Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp has announced that his blogging platform will start to build in paid for advertising from May 2nd, despite him telling the Los Angeles Times that “we’re pretty opposed to advertising. It really turns our stomachs,” back in 2010.

Dressed in the CEO uniform of hoody and jeans, he told the AdAge conference in New York that “you’ve already seen our ad unit”  - the Radar section of the dashboard, which currently highlights popular posts, and gives 120 million impressions a day. Karp also admitted that he had been “an idiot” for for his previous comments on advertising.

Karp though didn’t completely distance himself from criticisms of advertising in social media. He took a swipe at (indirect) competitors Facebook and Google, describing their their text heavy box based advertising units as “devoid of creativity”, and praising the creative ad opportunities on his own network. Tumblr has worked with brands such as the Cartoon Network already in using Radar to promote themselves, but that this advertising opportunity makes such campaigns “repeatable”. The company’s current revenue stream is based around taking a cut of paid-for, ‘pro’ themes, and they now charge users $1 to promote a post.

Indeed, some brands are already using Tumblr as a free advertising platform. It’s highly visual nature, and easily editable themes, means it is particularly popular with fashion and media brands,  including high profile names like Alexander McQueen. Global corporations such as IBM, and film brands such as The Hunger Games, have also used the platform to build stand alone sites to support their broader advertising campaigns. Tumblr blogs have also taken on some unique characteristics, with users posting pictures around a humorous political theme such as Awkward Ed Miliband Moments or the recently popular and now stopped Texts from Hilary Clinton (whose founders received a text from Secretary of State herself!)

Founded in 2007, Tumblr is considered to be a the trendy, creative blogging platform.  Based in New York, the company is also outside of the Silicon Valley bubble associated with so many social media and technology companies. According to it’s About Page, Tumblr is now home to over 52 million individual blogs, which add up to 21,376,706,612 posts.

As Karp  pointed out:

“We have about 4.5 billion impressions a week. There’s value in that to advertisers…,”