Today, at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, Tumblr founder David Karp and Sequoia partner (and Tumblr investor) Roelof Botha took the stage to talk to TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington about how the blogging platform’s plans to take over the world. After a conversation about the merits of building a startup in New York City versus Silicon Valley, the talk turned to how Tumblr plans to monetize their platform.
What’s going to differentiate Tumblr’s advertising over the big honchos of online advertising? Karp says that, unlike the bigs, Tumblr is going after the “top of the funnel,” in other words, advertising that actually inspires you to go out and buy. That’s all well and good, but is it actually working? “Ten out of ten Hollywood studios are buying advertising space on Tumblr,” Karp says. Tumblr is seeing high six-figures per campaign, and “budgets are starting to ramp up.”
In fact, Tumblr really began its monetization push back in May of last year, when it first launched ads on its network. “We’ve had great early traction on our network,” Karp told Arrington, “because our story stands apart from the other big ad networks out there.”
When Mike asked just what it was that made Tumblr stand out, Karp said that he thinks most of the big networks are really focused on bottom-of-the-funnel intent — that is to say, harvesting intent by hitting viewers with blasts of those little blue links that take them to the website of the “right asbestos attorney.”
New media platforms building ad networks are using intent from demographic targeting, timeliness and other roughshod ways of serving the right ad to users, but really they just end up being a group of little blue links designed to convert. In other words, Karp isn’t exactly a fan of search advertising. Sorry, Google.
Instead, Karp wants Tumblr to offer advertisers their own canvas and the space they need to create ads that will actually win awards, he says, the kind of content that one would find in traditional advertising. “We want to give them the space to do anything, a four-second loop, an hour and a half video, a high-res panorama, whatever they need to help them build amazing, interactive ads.”
The problem is that creative brand advertising hasn’t had anywhere to live on the Web, the Tumblr founder says, and the startup wants to build tools to do that — and to build ad space that’s a comfortable fit for social advertising.