Popular blogging platform Tumblr, which was recently acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, has introduced advertisements into its interface. These ads come in the form of sponsored posts, which appear in the user’s Dashboard in the same format as a normal blog post. Sponsored posts blend in with the rest of the user’s Dashboard, only differentiated by a small dollar-sign in the top right-hand corner of the post (where the source of the post would normally appear).
Reported companies taking part in sponsored posts include Viacom, Ford Motor Company, Universal Pictures, Capital One, AT&T, Denny’s and Purina. While many Tumblr users have expressed disappointment at the introduction of ads, advertising seems inevitable for social media platforms to remain viable and raise profits. For businesses, the functionality of Tumblr’s Dashboard ads sheds light into the future of social media advertising.
Why Dashboard Ads?
As an advertiser, you may be wondering – what is the point of an ad that blends in with the normal functions of a website? The genius of Dashboard ads on Tumblr is that the user must read the ad in order to recognize it as such. The Tumblr Dashboard consists of a conglomerate of posts from other Tumblr blogs that the user has chosen to follow; therefore, if an ad appears in the Dashboard as a normal blog post, the user is significantly more likely to digest the entire ad rather than ignoring it or scrolling past.
The introduction of sponsored posts has been met with criticism, a reaction similar to most changes in social media platforms. A common response amongst users is dissatisfaction with the fact that these advertisements hook them in before they recognize that they are sponsored. Some Tumblr users have threatened to leave the website, while others suggest adding the word “sponsored” to Tumblr Savior, a browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that allows the user the block posts containing certain words or tags.
Learning from Sponsored Posts
What can advertisers working with other social media platforms take away from sponsored posts? First, sponsored posts on Tumblr show us that integrating advertising into the main functions of a social media platform has the advantage of extreme effectiveness. It is almost guaranteed that your ads will reach your audience. Second, Dashboard ads on Tumblr have the same features of a regular blog post – they can be reblogged, commented on, and liked by users. This allows advertisers to easily collect information on what ads are effective and what ads are not, providing feedback for improvement. Dissatisfied users are a drawback, but the initial criticism of most social media changes tends to fade. The success of sponsored posts on Tumblr will certainly be something to watch for as advertisers work with other social media platforms to increase effectiveness and draw in more consumers.
Has your company experimented with new ad formats?