How Big is Tumblr?
In Feb 2007, yet another blogging/ micro-blogging platform, Tumblr, launched — adding to the many choices for casual and serious bloggers and micro-bloggers in an already crowded market, and going up against competitors such as WordPress.com. The difference? WordPress.com is for blogs. Tumblr is more for microblogging — sharing short content and having short conversations, with an abundance of photos, illustrations and video. (To wit, over 7% of Flickr.com’s referral traffic is from Tumblr — with Flickr’s photo sharing site being another of Yahoo!’s acquisitions.)
Whatever they did right, Tumblr came to the attention of Yahoo!, a company with a history of buying many great (and some not so great) startups then becoming a graveyard for some of them, due to neglect. What’s in the future is difficult to say since Yahoo! plans to let Tumblr remain mostly autonomous, with the primary exception of the latter now displaying Yahoo!-powered ads.
Here are some facts and figures about Tumblr:
• Founded Feb 2007
• As of this writing, Tumblr had:
• Nearly 170M (168.9M) blogs and growing — compared to about 107M (107.8M) in mid-May 2013.
• 75B posts — compared to 50B (50.6B) in mid-May 2013.
• Over 100M (104.2M) new posts daily.
• Available in 13 languages.
• 42% of traffic is domestic (U.S. visitors).
• Over 225 (226) employees.
• The May 20th, 2013, Tumblr purchase by Yahoo! is stated as $1.1B (all-cash) but in fact, the company only offered $990M for the blogging platform.
• Yahoo! in fact acquired in $1.1B in *assets*, minus over $110M ($113.8M) in liabilities.
• The calculation of “goodwill” (value of intangible assets) is set to over $750M ($750.9M).
• $74M is what Yahoo! lists on their balance sheet as being the value of tangible assets.
• Founder and CEO David Karp, who was 26 at time of purchase, stands to earn $81M in cash and stock — for which he has to stick around for 4 years. That’s just over $20M per year.
• Tumblr was not the only purchase Yahoo! made in 2013. Under CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! spent roughly $1.15B on 10 companies in the first half of the year. That’s $165M or under 15% (14.35%) on 9 companies, and over 85% (85.65%) on Tumblr.
How does Tumblr growth compare to other social media sites?
• According to an Adobe Digital Index (ADI) Q4 2013 social media report:
• 340% increase in Tumblr’s RPV (Revenue Per Visit) year-over-year (YoY); 38% increase quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) since 3Q13. (RPV is revenue referred to merchant sites from these social media sites.)
• Fastest growing network, at least in percentages.
• Tumblr: increased from $0.25 RPV for Q4 2012 to $1.10 RPV for Q4 2013.
• Facebook: RPV rose from $0.71 (4Q12) to $1.22 (4Q13) — nearly 72% (71.8%) increase YoY, and 31% increase QoQ.
• Twitter: RPV rose from $0.35 (4Q12) to $0.81 (4Q13) — 131% increase YoY, 84% QoQ.
• Pinterest: RPV rose from $0.27 (4Q12) to $0.93 (4Q13) — 244% increase YoY, 69% QoQ.
• This gives Tumblr the 2nd-highest RPV, just after Facebook.
• In terms of traffic referred from these social media sites:
• Facebook: 15% YoY; 2% QoQ.
• Twitter: 125% YoY; 18% QoQ.
• Pinterest: 89% YoY; 11% QoQ.
• Tumblr: 0%? No exact figures from ADI. In an ADI bar chart, Tumblr referring traffic appeared to be miniscule in comparison to all of the above sites. Other sources claim 74% growth in 2013 (as of late Oct 2013).
However, these are just percentage increases, and revenue referred from these sites, to merchant sites. The bottom line really is: how much traffic is Tumblr generating and how much is the company earning?
In terms of earnings:
• Tumblr claims $13M revenue in 2012, with claims of an expectation of $100M for 2013. (Brand ads started appearing in 2012.)
• Other figures (BusinessInsider.com) state that the actual 2012 revenue was only $5M, and that 2013 revenue will be close to $15M, not $100M — factors that are said to be unimportant because Yahoo!’s real reason for the Tumblr purchase was for the young audience.
As for traffic, Tumblr is hiding the numbers, at time of writing. In fact, as Forbes pointed out in mid-Jan 2014, traffic has been stagnant according to comScore. Other traffic-related data:
• When Tumblr.com was acquired in May 2013, it had an audience of nearly 50M (47.49M) users, collectively for desktop and mobile platforms.
• Since that time, according to comScore, traffic has dropped from that level, with one blip exceeding it — a fact that a Tumblr spokesperson countered against, saying that comScore does not represent all mobile traffic — particularly in-app traffic. Apparently 50% of active users access Tumblr through their mobile apps, and use of these apps has grown 251% “in the past year.”
• If you try to view traffic data for Tumblr.com on Quantcast, it says “Traffic data has been hidden by the owner.”
• According to Tumblr, they did this because they’re now relying on comScore analytics rather than Quantcast.
• GlobalWebIndex data, based on a global survey of 170K Internet users, suggests that 4% of Tumblr users consider themselves “active users,” from Q2 through Q4 2013, inclusive.
• The actual number of Tumblr accounts increased as follows, in 2013: 6% increase in Q1; 12% in Q2; 11% in Q3; 13% in Q4.
Why the Downturn in Traffic?
Is it because Tumblr became Tumblr! — just another acquisition of Yahoo! — and ceased to be cool, despite the claims of autonomy from Yahoo!? Other theories are that viral sites such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy are stealing traffic. Nevertheless, Tumblr switched over its ads to be Yahoo!-powered.
But what about all the porn blogs Tumblr is said to have? Do merchants want their ads on such sites? Tumblr’s own usage guidelines state that NSFW (Not Safe For Work) material is okay if such content is tagged “NSFW,” with explicit videos preferably hosted elsewhere instead of uploaded. Furthermore, as Marissa Mayer wants for Tumblr to be run independently, she has stated she’s fine with the adult content. While traffic for adult subdomains on Tumblr has decreased, there was a time (about 4 years prior to its acquisition announcement by Yahoo!) that, as ToMuse.com reported:
• 4 of the top 6 Tumblr subdomains contained porn, as well as 13 of the top 23.
• 16 of the top 23 contained adult content in general.
• That’s 80% of the top subdomains, not including the main “www” domain.
However, in terms of overall traffic U.S. traffic at the time, the top 10 subdomains only made up less than 21.1% of all U.S. traffic (the bottom 4 subdomains had less than 1% each) — of which porn blogs made up 8.1%. Also note that these traffic percentage figures were courtesy of Quantcast, which does not report traffic for mapped blogs (which use their own domain name but are using the Tumblr service) and, as such, might be inaccurate.
By mid-Aug 2012, the top 15 Tumblr subdomains had no porn blogs. Of course, this sort of statistic is a moving target, and unless Tumblr’s terms of service explicitly prohibit adult content, these blogs will continue to exist.
• Since at least 2012, Tumblr has been shutting down some of the porn blogs.
• However, by around the time of acquisition (mid-May 2013), 22% of Tumblr’s referring (incoming) traffic is from porn sites. (Search engine referrals are not included in this measure.)
• 12% of Tumblr traffic at the time was from game sites.
• 12% from music sites.
• 8% from file-sharing and social networks.
• 6% from arts and entertainment sites.
• The remaining 40% were from “Other” sites.
How any of this will impact Tumblr!, given competition from other blogging platforms, is of course to be seen. Yahoo! has a history of buying or building great online properties and then neglecting some of them (Yahoo! Pipes), shutting some down (Geocities), selling others (Delicious).
• As of after the May 2013 announcement, comScore showed that Tumblr had 117M unique visitors worldwide — up from 58M from around the same time in 2012.
• But 300M active monthly visitors is what Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer claimed in an interview — putting the cost per user at around $3-$9 each, depending on which figure is correct.
• Keep in mind that services like comScore do not always represent full usage of a site. As well, “visitor” does not necessarily equate to “active user” — the latter being someone who is registered and will regularly use the Tumblr dashboard to post/ edit content.
• Tumblr themselves said that they had 225M unique visitors as of Mar 2013. That would mean a growth of 75M new unique vistors to Tumblr blogs about 1.5-2 months, if the 300M is correct.
• 12M unique smartphone users — an increase from the roughly 4M same time in 2012.
• About 53% of Tumblr visits were from women, according to Compete.com in Dec 2012.
• This figure is backed up by a Pew Internet survey (conducted in Nov 14-Dec 9, 2012) of 1,802 adult American Internet users.
• The Pew Internet survey also estimated that 6% of American Internet users use Tumblr.
• 14 min is the average time that Tumblr users spend on the site per visit — which at the time was 1.5 min more than for Facebook users.
Some additional demographic figures:
• At present, only 31 of Top 100 Brands use Tumblr.
• 28 of those 31 brands also use Instagram and/or Pinterest.
• Various surveys suggest that 65% of Tumblr’s audience have a college education (56% have some college education); 66% are under 35; 39% are under 25.
• The top 3 geographic sources of Tumblr visitors are Seoul, Korea (over 1.694M visitors), New York (over 898K), and LA (over 753K).
• 31% of visitors are American, with mobile devices making up 9% of U.S. visits.
Yahoo! still has an opportunity to turn the purchase of Tumblr into something worthwhile, though that might likely mean getting Tumblr to display more Yahoo!-powered ads than are currently showing — an action that might turn off users and visitors alike, given that brand ads only appeared in 2012 — after about 5 years ad-free.
Information for this article was collected from the following pages and web sites: