David Karp and the future of Tumblr advertising

In the current edition of Forbes magazine there is a really interesting article with Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp. In recent times the blogging platform has gone from the niche destination of choice for hipsters and cat lovers to one of the most powerful social networks on the web.

It’s all meant that Karp is now worth over $200 million. He is 26.

One of the most interesting aspects of the piece is Karp’s discussion of bringing in ad revenue to the company, something he has previously been very queasy about.

He told reporter Jeff Bercovici that he really wants to reinvent internet advertising. He dismissed what Google and Facebook do as “hyper-hyper targeting of little blue links”. While Karp concedes in the piece that the blue links can be effective, he wants to do something different. Typically for Tumblr, he wants advertising to be more creative, more beautiful, and he hopes, more engaging.

As a result, Tumblr don’t want to get involved in privacy pushing data mining either. Instead they want to bring brand advertising onto the web, which Tumblr ‘revenue consultant’ Rick Webb describes as being worth $50 million. Bercovici describes the company try to bring in advertising of “the sort, romanticized in Mad Men and celebrated in Super Bowl commercials.”

There have been some advertising successes on the platform already, which the article highlights. These include confectionery maker Kraft using Tumblr to target a young demographic for a new chewing gum they were producing. Tumblr also already charges a fairly high CPM rate of $4 – $7 for spots on its influential Spotlight and Radar sections.

Like most social media entrepreneurs, Karp is having to worry about the transition to tablets. Karp told Forbes that the ‘inflection point’ at which the majority of traffic will come from the mobile is early next year. This is particularly relevant to Tumblr as they were a very web based company, and early apps were pretty poor.

Getting the brands ads working on tablets and phones, is going to be critical, but for now everything is going in the right direction for David Karp, and Tumblr has never been more influential.

At the end of last year Tumblr began to take steps to attract UK brands and make more money from the site.

The five-year-old micro-blogging platform signed up We Are Social, Poke, AKQA and Bartle Bogle Hegarty as its first UK agency partners. The partnership will give the agencies access to Tumblr data and specialist training in a similar manner to Facebook’s Preferred Developer programme.

Tumblr, which receives 16.8bn page views monthly and hosts 80.5m blogs, does not have a UK operation. The agency tie-ups are intended to help them better use the platform for clients and boost creativity.

Foster’s, Topshop and Pringle of Scotland are among the few UK brands using Tumblr to post content.