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Universal, JCPenney seek engagement, not promotion, in Tumblr video ads

JCPenney, Unilever and other brands are flocking to Tumblr?s video ads for an opportunity to engage with audiences in a less-promotionally oriented atmosphere than on other social networks. 

Universal Pictures, The CW, Hulu and Lexus also are among brands that have autoplay video ads as sponsored posts on Tumblr, as the Yahoo-owned microblogging and social networking site eyes advertisers' swelling video budgets. The opening of video ads on Tumblr - first to this select group, then to all advertisers by mid-November - comes as video?s role in meeting the needs of today?s consumers grows in importance.

?The benefit of advertising on Tumblr is engagement,? said Yeonhee Lee DeLorenzo, director, emerging media at PM Digital. ?Users do not log into their Tumblr accounts necessarily in search of product information or brand offers the way that some might with other social platforms. 

?Instead, users want to see customized, and often, user-generated engagement from the brands they love within Tumblr?s platform,? she said. 

Widespread rollout
Twelve brands started testing autoplay ads within Tumblr feeds on Wednesday. The feature will complete its widespread rollout in November.

The videos will automatically play within users? feeds. Viewers will have to select the volume option to turn on the sound. 

Hulu is bringing video ads to Tumblr.

?The ads are predicted to be highly reminiscent of Facebook?s autoplay ads, with hints of Vine as they will also have a looping function,? Ms. DeLorenzo said.

?Tumblr has also made it easy for brands to implement this media format because videos that brands have already created on other platforms, such as Vine and Instagram, can be reused and repurposed for Tumblr,? she said.

Brands will pay for impressions only when a video plays in a feed for two seconds. The looping will have no impact on the cost for brands.

There are no creative restrictions on the ads. Tumblr is not demanding a specific minimum ad spend, Ms. DeLorenzo said.

The ads are viewable across desktop, Apple iOS and Android devices.

?Tumblr is already attractive to many brands within the beauty and CPG sectors because of the strong impact influencers and bloggers have within the platform,? Ms. DeLorenzo said. ?Now that they have introduced videos into the mix, brands across the entertainment industry will likely be enticed to develop a Tumblr presence.

?Like Vine, and Snapchat, Tumblr is a platform that adheres to creative influencers,? she said. 

?Many Vine and Snapchat creators and personalities are now creating branded video campaigns and it is likely that Tumblr users with strong followers will be approached and asked to leverage their influence in this same manner.?

Platform influencers
Within Tumblr, brands can more easily leverage the reach of platform influencers with campaigns that favor the platform?s  visual, GIF-heavy character. 

Brands are aware that the sponsored creative that they create for Facebook and Twitter will not resonate with Tumblr audiences because audiences turn to Tumblr specifically for creative engagement and inspiration, Ms. DeLorenzo said. 

Tumblr ad for Unilever's Axe, one of the video brands.

?Many brands have already commissioned popular artists and Tumblr users to generate their Tumblr presence which has allowed brands to seamlessly transition onto the platform and ingratiate themselves with Tumblr?s protective user base,? she said.

Yahoo?s recent earnings call included a projection that Tumblr would generate more than $100 million in 2015 revenue as approximately 260 brands turn to its platform to engage the millennials who are its core audience.

?Tumblr?s growth lies within mobile, Ms. DeLorenzo said. "Mobile usage is on the rise, as is mobile video consumption, and optimizing autoplay ads for mobile allows marketers to have a strong presence within users? Tumblr feeds at all times and across all devices.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.