Predicting Instagram Ad Success Based on Tumblr Ads

Image-based platforms are attempting to bridge the gap between advertising and quality content, and merge it seamlessly with their existing experience. Popular visual-based platforms that are taking on this challenge include tumblr and Instagram. Mobile ads have appeared on Instagram only recently, while tumblr ads have been around for the majority of 2013.

Tumblr ads were initially received with harsh criticism from devoted fans, but the blogging site saw 42% increase in visitors since the ads debuted. Instagram first introduced the new advertising plans only a couple of months ago. Using Tumblr as a forecast apparatus, will Instagram ads become a huge failure, or a massive success?

Shown below, an example of a Tumblr mobile ad. Tumblr ads are labeled with an animated dollar sign in the top-right corner of the post:

krista_tumblr ad 

Instagram ads are viewed in the home feed, and are indicated by a “Sponsored” label in the top right corner where the time stamp would normally be:


Tumblr ads first appeared in 2012 on desktop, and finally made the leap to mobile in April 2013. Instagram is following suit, and rolling out advertising slowly with a few major brands like Ben and Jerry’s, Levis, PayPal, Michael Kors, and more.

Mobile advertising is not a disruptive concept. It is becoming more and more essential as we spend more and more time on mobile devices.

On the other hand, mobile advertising can be perceived as intrusive, and unwanted. When tumblr ads entered the show, there was a lot of whining and pearl-clutching from people who wanted to look at cat gifs without interruption.

But the tumultuous Tumblr storm has passed for now. Mobile ads only appear 4x per day, which isn’t disruptive at all, even to the avid user. There were no announcements about increasing the frequency of ads, but tumblr has an eye on 2014 to increase ad potential.

Instagram is slowly releasing advertising to create a sustainable revenue stream. Co-founder Kevin Systrom sasy “Ads need to feel like organic content,” and he personally handles the content review process. This type of vetting is important to build the foundation before every brand jumps on the Instagram ad bandwagon.

Systrom also says that it is too early to talk about advertising and Instagram Direct, which was recently announced as a private photo-messaging feature on Instagram. Because of the slow roll out of ads on the platform, the first advertisers can use this early time to gauge how the audience reacts to the content, and pave the way for future brands to partake.

Ads on tumblr are seeing significant engagement with impressive brand promotions, but Instagram has been sailing in murky waters since the launch of the first ads. Although skeptics need convincing, new changes are eventually accepted by the masses. And Instagram will be no different.

Written by Krista Bedosky, Community Manager at MRY


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