David Karp, the founder of the all-popular micro-blogging service Tumblr recently spoke at Tech Crunch Disrupt in NYC.
His comments were brief, but really outlined the direction that Karp would like to take his company. Tumblr quickly grew from a few thousand users, to millions in a very short time frame. They struggled immensely with keeping up with just how many users were joining the platform, their servers crashed frequently, not being able to keep up the pace.
Karp commented saying that their company goal is not to view Twitter, Facebook, or the slew of other social sites as competition; because he believes Tumblr does something uniquely their own.
He also stressed just how important their dashboard space is to the service as a whole. The dashboard is, in effect the equivalent to the Twitter stream or the Facebook timeline, it is the place where users see the updates from their community.
Karp believes this dashboard is sacred and Tumblr users would not react well to inline ads like promoted Tweets. However, he did highlight the potential for the Right Hand Side of the dashboard to become a potential spot for promotion of other Tumblogs or outright advertising.
For example let’s say I publish a post on my Tumblr blog and I’m quite proud of it. Naturally I would want this post to be seen by as many people as possible. Karp described a platform where I would pay let’s say, maybe $5 and Tumblr would promote that post for me on the dashboards of other’s and help me further share my awesome post.
Karp expressly stated that Tumblr would not follow in Twitter’s footsteps and add inline ad’s in the actual Tumblr feed, saying that its “Incredibly Precious”. This would keep with Tumblr’s goal of keeping the dashboard space full of good content that users want to see, but allow them to make money at the same time.
As is the issue with all of the social sites currently on the market; the only way they are actually able to monetize is by throwing up ads or offering some sort of promoted content scheme. Which is still basically another form of advertising.
The next possible solution is more or less what Twitter has done, and what I believe Tumblr will more or less end up doing (they won’t have a choice). Offering ads that have good content and that seamlessly integrate with the content that is already present on the page, this would go in the actual Tumblr dashboard feed. Forrst has done a fantastic job of doing this. The website focuses on developers and designers, the ads are useful and offer value to the site, rather than just trying to be too overly targeted and show me what some algorithm thinks I’m going to find appealing. Which more or less just further annoys me, and I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one.
In the end, Tumblr has been trying to monetize since their inception, after speaking with other people in tech at Disrupt and various startups around NYC, what Karp is saying is not really big news, he’s said it before, we’ll just have to wait and see what Tumblr ends up doing. Skimlinks.
Similar to when Twitter introduced ads, there will probably be a big stink, then the general population will cease to care, no one will click the ads and everyone will go on with using the service as normal. Only time will tell…