This Survey Says Tumblr Is a Ghost Town For Brands

marissa mayer david karp tumblr yahooDavid Karp and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

One issue Yahoo will have now that it plans to build out Tumblr’s advertising offerings is persuading advertisers to actually show up on Tumblr.

We recently reported that Tumblr’s ad products offer only extremely limited targeting abilities and that clients aren’t yet asking about paid media on Tumblr.

But Rob Leathern, CEO of Optimal, a social media marketing management company, wrote that brands have mostly not bothered to investigate even Tumblr’s free offerings:

Of the 10,600+ brands we examine on a daily basis (see optimal for more on these across 100 sectors), we see about 2,400 (just less than 25%) have a tumblr presence.

However, 25% of these are mostly empty and many appear to be brands squatting on their own names and planning to get to it later when they have time, perhaps. About 588 of these brand pages have fewer than 10 items of lifetime activity. Some brands like Pepsi are quite active, though the activity levels ebb and flow quite a bit, but others are far less so. The mean number of total engagements per brand on tumblr is 224 but the median is just two.

That’s scary: Tumblr has 225 million unique visitors per month, but most companies don’t have a presence there. Of those that do, engagement with other users is minimal: Just two per company.

How likely is it that Tumblr can build a robust advertising business if brands don’t even want it when it’s free?

Partly, it’s about education. CEO David Karp only got serious about advertising a year ago. prior to that, he was actively disinterested in it. It’s early days and most brands probably haven’t added Tumblr to their “To Do” lists yet.

A spokesperson for Tumblr tells us:

We are one year into working with brand advertisers and have been delighted by the content brands have created on Tumblr- beautiful and diverse content that fits seamlessly with the best work on our network. We now have 10 out of 10 of the top Hollywood studios advertising on Tumblr along with eight out of 10 of the most valuable brands, and growing.

Hayes Davis, CEO of Union Metrics, one of Tumblr’s official content analytics companies, adds:

Tumblr is still an emerging platform, but with that said, there is an incredible diversity in the types of brands taking advantage it. Most recently, we saw the movie studio behind Great Gatsby tap into the community to build momentum and interest around the movie’s release. It saw huge levels of engagement, with an animated GIF featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby receiving 161.5k notes. But it is not just entertainment – companies like General Electric, which might not come to mind when thinking about Tumblr, has a vibrant presence on the site and just in the last month has garnered 55.1k notes around its brand.

… Adidas saw an increase in conversations around its brand when a fan took a screen grab of one of its TV commercials and posted it on the Tumblr. In just two weeks the post saw 88K notes.

This is part of the problem: GE, a handful of movie studios, and Adidas have famously taken to Tumblr like fish to water. But other than that, brands with serious money are conspicuous by their absence.

What Tumblr must do is go down the path trodden by Facebook: Encourage brands to use Tumblr’s free offerings — blogs and dashboards — and then, once they’ve gained some traction with their followers, start charging for promoted products that have extended reach beyond organic views.

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