Feature Article

April 23, 2013

Tumblr's Native Ad Format Brings Promotional Bonuses to Mobile Advertising

One of the key purposes of advertising is to catch the attention of users, and more and more these days, that's a difficult prospect. There's more advertising than ever out there, and more sources of advertising all dueling for that valuable attention. But Tumblr may have a bit of an ace up its sleeve, bringing its own breed of advertising style to the mobile realm.

Tumblr brought the native ad style, now only a year old, to the mobile apps on Monday, April 22, and in so doing showed off a whole new breed of creativity and possibility within the advertising space. Tumblr's native advertising style is heavy on animated GIFs and the like, and some are already regarding it as especially well-suited for mobile devices.

For instance, one of the ads in question was for the upcoming release of the film “The Great Gatsby.” It was a simple animated GIF, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio raising a drink in toast to the viewer, with a small message beneath suggesting that not only should the viewers of said ad see the movie when it comes out May 10, but that also, users should follow the film on Tumblr. The response, as measured by user notes, was outstanding, garnering over 85,000 user notes in just a short time.

The move of native ad format to mobile is being regarded not only as a success—as demonstrated by that Gatsby ad—but also as a much larger potential overall for advertising to mobile in general. Not only does the ad work well overall in the space it's provided, it also takes advantage of the smaller overall dimensions to present a surprisingly compelling image. All it is, is just a mobile image of Jay Gatsby lifting a glass in the viewer's direction. It's not a trailer, it's not a sound bite, it's just that glass going up, but it's picked up quite a bit of support. This may well have some viewers wondering, if this is what the ad looks like, what am I in for in terms of the movie itself? That's the kind of long-term attention focus that advertisers strive for.

Admittedly, advertising itself is still a bit more of an art than it is a science, and there are still plenty of scientific measures involved in advertising. Getting and keeping attention, seeing what works and what doesn't, these things can be properly engaged with scientific measures. With a lot of different advertisers vying for viewers' attention, name recognition, and the hotly coveted front-of-mind status, anything an advertiser can do to make an ad more fun, more memorable, and more engaging is likely to be adopted.

That's what makes Tumblr's native feed so attractive to at least some advertisers right now. It's new, which steps up the engagement factor. It's showing up on mobile, which is a rapidly growing format in its own right. Above all, it's effective, garnering plenty of attention and user notes, and when users comment on advertising, that's a double bonus in terms of engagement and the improved chance at front-of-mind. Whether Tumblr ads can keep up that effectiveness remains to be seen, but it's looking pretty good all the same.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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