Global Head, Brand Partnerships
Yahoo set off to make social media platform Tumblr a more viable destination for video advertising in October 2014 with the launch of an upgraded video player. Lee Brown, Tumblr’s global head of brand partnerships, spoke with eMarketer’s Danielle Drolet about the platform’s push for video ads and the emergence of the format in social media.
eMarketer: What’s Tumblr’s outlook on video advertising, particularly with the recent launch of the upgraded player?
Lee Brown: Video is alive and well on our platform. It was already among our most popular post tools, and one of the most requested things by our creators and brands.
With the upgraded player, the architecture of that original video post remains largely the same in how people upload. What we’ve improved upon are many of the formats, as well as the resolution. But, in particular, we’ve improved the functionality and viewing experience for the users.
eMarketer: What feedback have you gotten on the improvements?
“Video posts are growing at twice the rate of our photo posts.”
Brown: It has been well received from the community and adopted not only from our fans and creators, but also from brand partners.
Video posts are growing at twice the rate of our photo posts. And according to post volume, the Tumblr video player is the preferred player on our platform. We’ve seen a significant increase—about 500%—in native video plays since the launch.
eMarketer: How is Tumblr a unique choice for brands to activate video ad campaigns, vs. YouTube, Facebook or other social platforms?
Brown: Context matters. I certainly wouldn’t put YouTube in the same bucket as Facebook and Twitter, and separating Tumblr out as the platform with context is what differentiates us. Our platform is not necessarily based on who you know, but around the passions and the things that you love.
eMarketer: Can you give a sense of the type of advertisers buying video ads on Tumblr?
Brown: Marketers from all over are enlisting sponsored video posts as part of their campaigns. We have entertainment, auto, retail and CPG. We’re going to have telecommunications and finance by the end of the year.
The CW, Universal, Lexus, Ford, JCPenney and Axe were some of our launch partners.
eMarketer: What do you think are the key challenges ahead for video ad activations in social?
Brown: Production and creation have been pain points, according to marketers—now especially, as they move from being someone that’s interrupting the content to creating the actual content. This is something that marketers want to work with us and our agency partners on: to help create and have the scale and the volume of production to tell the story, not only in real time and relevant[ly] to the conversation, but also in alignment with those brand pillars and objectives of the communities that they want to reach.
“When brands show up and are true to themselves and to the platform in which they are engaging and leveraging, they have the most success.”
eMarketer: What are some best practices?
Brown: In the beginning, we tell brand partners to show up and act like a creator. Don’t show up and act like an advertiser. Be authentic to the platform in which you are engaging. Make sure that your brand pillars and objectives support the content that you’re creating to engage with the community and the fans that you’re trying to reach. If you deliver them valuable, entertaining and unique content, they’re going to engage with it.
eMarketer: Which brand partner has done this well?
Brown: IBM is a great example of leading our technology community on Tumblr. They are well respected and well followed. They show up and make unbelievable content about technology. And they are authentic to that community. When brands show up and are true to themselves and to the platform in which they are engaging and leveraging, they have the most success.
They have been some of the world’s best storytellers for a long time. They’ve been relegated to being around the content, vs. being the content. And with this, they can come and lead the marketplace with compelling and original branded content.