Tumblr's ads: How to win in a catch-up game

Last week Tumblr introduced ads into its mobile feed, adding another revenue stream for the popular blogging service. However, industry experts say it is up against tough competition with giants Facebook and Twitter already dominating the scene and already having offered such advertising capabilities a long way back.

Even in traffic rankings Tumblr lags far behind Twitter and Facebook. According to web traffic tracking source Alexa, global web traffic places Facebook at number 2 following Google, Linkedin at 10, Twitter at 11 and Tumblr comes in at 32.

In the US, where the blogging platform has significant clout in the social space, it had 52 million users at the start of the year, behind  Facebook's 141 million and Twitter's 94 million.
In the region, Tumblr ranks 13in the Philippines, 28 in Singapore and 41 in Thailand and Malaysia on Alexa's rankings.

Tumblr shows the most promise for its targeting abilities and content, said digital industry players.

Amanda Chng, lead solutions specialist of Blugrapes said that rich media content may become a strong selling point for ads on Tumblr, but other social media giants may by then start introducing paid videos to their feeds, she added.

However, she added that if Tumblr can make its user interface and content more visual and interactive, there is potential for become one of the main players in this region.

Simon Kemp, MD of We Are Social added that the move makes sense only if marketers "make use of the targeting it offers."

He explained that because Tumblr is more of a community-based platform and advertisers who take the time to "identify how to add value to communities stand to get a lot from this kind of product".

Tumblr has been steadily stepping up its marketing offerings. Earlier last year Tumblr rolled out a new programme called A-List Partnership that aimed to enable brands to make most out of their campaigns on the site. The programme paired brands with advertising, media and creative agencies as well as technology providers and theme developers to help them work with the right partners and explore possibilities with Tumblr.

Lee Brown, Tumblr's vice president of sales, wrote in a blog post that it has been almost a year since its first sponsored post appeared in Tumblr.

Since then, its brand partners have "created some truly delightful blogs and racked up tens of millions of notes on their posts," said Brown.