Tumblr’s Mobile Apps Updated With Improved Search And Discovery, Make Room For More Ad Spots, Too

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Yahoo-owned Tumblr has today addressed one of the more frustrating aspects of using its service via its mobile applications. No, not the problem where GIFs wouldn’t actually animate – they already fixed that! But rather, it was difficult to find any particular, popular blog using the Tumblr app, which previously only allowed users to search by tag or browse through a “Discovery” section where you could delve into trending tags like #celebs, #food, or #prose, for example.

Today, however, both Tumblr’s iOS and Android applications have been updated with a new search and discovery feature which lets you not only type in keywords to surface both tags and blogs, but also features scrollable sections where you can browse those that are currently trending across the network.

The implementation is actually well done. At the top of the new discovery section of the app (tap the magnifying glass icon to get to this screen), there are smaller thumbnails overlaid with the name of the tag they represent. You can flip through these horizontally, in a Cover Flow like-manner, to see the 10 or so most popular tags on Tumblr. What’s more, even though the thumbnails are small, they may still display animated GIFs or offer a play button that, when tapped, launches you directly into a section that features a video making the rounds on Tumblr (like the Grand Theft Auto V gameplay video that is featured this morning).

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Meanwhile, a search also yields a list of top blogs for a given tag or search, each which now also includes a prominent “Follow” button that will help Tumblr’s publishers gain more readers. Before, a Tumblr tag search would showcase blog posts, of course, but if you wanted to subscribe, you’d have to tap again on the blog’s name, then locate the small “Follow” button at the top right.

While seemingly minor, the improved search and discovery capabilities make it easier for users to check in with what’s happening on Tumblr now, giving it a sense of being more of a real-time service than it actually is. That’s a step up from the earlier version of the app where search felt like a utility, not a feature that would regularly draw you back in.

That’s also important for Yahoo/Tumblr’s plans to generate more revenue for the service through in-app brand advertising. Already, Tumblr has introduced advertisements to users’ dashboards on the service on both web and mobile. This newly revamped discovery section could offer more ad inventory for Yahoo to sell. It’s easy to imagine how an advertiser may want to pay for more prominent placement in the list of recommended, trending blogs, for example, or pay for a thumbnail with its own trending tag. Combined with sponsored posts, the various placements would be similar in style and spirit to Twitter’s Promoted Product lineup, which lets advertisers buy spots in search, trends, and even on the timeline.

But Tumblr, which is known for more off-color content, will also have to be careful about which tags and blogs end up in this newly revamped section before selling spots to advertisers whose ads would run immediately next to those items. That shouldn’t be much of a challenge for the company, though, since it already has a team in place that curates content for its other ad products like Radar and Spotlight.