In a somewhat unexpected move, tumblr announced on Wednesday that it was switching its business model to introduce paid advertising onto its microblogging site. The 'radar' post which usually appears on a user's dashboard, will be sold as an ad unit from the 2nd of May this year.
The CEO and founder of the five year old site, David Karp, delivered a closing keynote yesterday according to Ad Age, in which he explained the company has established 15 partnerships already in which they've used the radar feature to promote content from their brands, but changing the business model of the company would allow the promotional campaigns to become "repeatable."
Karp apparently complemented several tumblr accounts that have used creative methods to promote their brands, including The Hunger Games and Warby Barker, an account run by Warby Parker in which they post images of dogs wearing very fashionable shades.
At present, tumblr make most of their revenue from taking a cut of sold custom themes and allowing users to highlight posts for followers at $1 each. Commentators have criticised the apparent change of direction at the company when in 2010, Mr Karp was quoted as saying "[we're] pretty opposed to advertising. It really turns our stomachs."
With tumblr having recently passed the 50 million blog mark and collecting a total of $125 million in funding as of September last year, the site must be struggling in someone's books as Karp was quoted as saying as late as last week that advertising was "a complete last resort."