Tumblr has been a surprise hit blogging service, giving users the ability to easily share pictures and pithy posts inside their ecosystem. Up to this point, the company had shied away from major efforts to monetize their operations. Aside from a selection of premium blog layouts, the entire service has been free to use since day one. That changed today when Tumblr announced new “highlighted posts,” which for a small fee aim to draw user’s attention.
One of the little quirks of Tumblr has been that the service seems to cater to two distinct audiences. The first, people without Tumblr accounts, see most of Tumblr’s content through the outward facing blogs maintained by users. These are highly customizable, giving users lots of options on how to present their posts. However, the bulk of Tumblr’s readership views content on the service through the dashboard, which is a running stream of content from blogs to which the user has subscribed.
On the dashboard, all posts are equal, and that’s where the new highlighted posts come in. For a dollar, users can add a brightly colored sticker and icon designed to distinguish it from others. Here’s a picture of one in the wild, spotted by The Next Web:
You might think to yourself that there’s no possible reason why anyone would want to use something like this. To that hypothetical statement, Tumblr has this response from their blog:
Every now and then, a post comes along that’s meant for big things. It could be pulling the wraps off your new project, promoting your next show, raising awareness for a cause, or just sharing a truly incredible photo.
Taken in that light, one wonders how much of an actual monetization effort these highlighted posts really are. If Tumblr was really trying to make money off these stickers, the cost would probably be lower, aiming for a huge number of impulse purchases. It seems to me that the $1 price tag isn’t meant to facilitate sales, but rather to curb abuse of these stickers. Tumblr prides itself on its little garden of strange, user-uploaded delights, and cluttering the feed with brightly colored arrows doesn’t seem like their style.
If that’s the case, where Tumblr plans on making its real money remains a mystery. We’ll have to wait for the next shoe to drop from Tumblr HQ, hopefully emblazoned with a colorful sticker so we don’t miss it.
(via The Next Web)
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