Tumblr has a few monetization streams: radar, pinned posts, highlighted posts, themes, etc. But when I read this reblog by Kenyatta about Rick Webb’s CPM analysis, I started thinking - maybe CPMs are all wrong. And while Tumblr is the only website to be moving away from CPMs (which I think is in the right direction) maybe it could be better. Let me explain:
Beyonce is now on Tumblr. Based off her 6.3 million Twitter followers, Iet’s say she has about 1 million Tumblr followers. However, Beyonce currently pays the same $5 to pin her posts as me. So if she promotes her new fashion line for $5, she’ll generate millions off of that promotion. Her promoted posts can’t even compare to mine. That’s a problem for a few reasons:
What if I were just starting out with 100 followers, and I tackled the same business model of releasing a song per week. That $5 a week ($20 a month) is a ton of money when you’re poor or just starting out. So maybe CPMs (how Twitter and Facebook are doing it) is all wrong. And maybe “a socialized price” of $5 per blog is also wrong because not all blogs are equal.
So maybe the newer model should be CPF (cost per followers) or whatever you might call it. Here’s how it would work:
Tumblr could do something like $1 per 1,000 followers. If your blog has 200 followers, you would pay $1 to promote your posts. If you have 10,000 followers, it would cost $10. It’s structured similar to a email blast’s tiered pricing. This would allow newer Tumblrs (the long tail) to risk the $1 in hopes of generating sales and a creating a larger community. Then as they grew with Tumblr’s assistance, they pay another $1 per each 1,000 fans they get.
Facebook ads and Google adsense suck. At least for me they do. They’re confusing and they never work. But Tumblr works because it’s a community and rapport between the seller and the buyer. CPM campaigns target strangers and usually hit their financial ceiling within an hour, so I have no idea where that money went. In addition, Twitter Ads are charging up to $2.50 per follower. What’s that even mean? It can easily be rigged, and that’s why CPM’s truth and transparency is dying.
Erin Griffith wrote an interesting article about how we’re still waiting for ads to catch up to user activity. She raises a good point, and I think it comes down to how structured and confusing CPMs are. If you want something to catch on, then you have to make it easy enough that a grandparent or a 12 year old can do it. And I promise you - a 12 year old doesn’t understand CPM’s, but they understand the ease of Tumblr’s promoted post feature.
An idea for a Tumblr “CFM” like I proposed would level the playing field, still be super easy to understand, allow smaller sites more leverage to grow their communities, and disallow someone like Beyonce to have an advantage over the other smaller 70 million Tumblr pages.
The flaw about this model that I proposed has 3 concerns:
1.) If there are 2 blogs each with 1000 followers, and one is selling $10,000 Bulldozers and the other is selling $1 songs, then the bulldozer’s pinned posts are going to make a ton of more money, and therefore continue to take advantage of CFMs over CPMs. But that’s still the case with Tumblr’s current system anyway.
2.) Wouldn’t this stop people from wanting to grow their Tumblr’s because the cost would go up? I feel that a few dollars per thousand followers would hardly hinder growth.
3.) Wouldn’t $1 promoted posts (for smaller communities) squander the $2 highlighted posts option? Yes. So perhaps what you could do is have highlighted posts be on multiples starting at 1 ($1, $2, $4, $8, $16) and have promoted posts start on a higher multiple ($2, $4, $8, $16, $32)
Or maybe this isn’t the answer, who knows. But at least it creates and continues an active discussion on this topic.