Tumblr Leaps Into Native Video With Auto-Play Ads

Yahoo-owned microblogging platform Tumblr is following Facebook’s lead into native advertising by piloting auto-playing ads from well-known brands like Lexus, JCPenny, and Hulu to appear in users’ dashboards.

The ads will be muted by default, like Facebook’s video ad offerings, and users will have to click a speaker button to activate sound. The ads will also offer a pop-out feature that allows users to keep scrolling as the ad plays.

Tumblr’s jump into auto-play video ads is evidence of a further push from pre-roll video as an industry standard for video advertising, according to Mike Owen, chief revenue officer at AdColony. “This is a great move by Tumblr,” he says. “Native video requires a different approach, given how consumers are absorbing content inside these environments. While the pre-roll unit remains an important one, the growth ahead for native video placements is enormous, and we are already seeing major marketers capitalize on this by re-thinking their creative approach.”

Tumblr’s audience has increased 40 percent in the last 15 months, according to Yahoo chief executive (CEO) Marissa Mayer, who recently announced that she expects the company to generate 100 million in revenue in 2015, mostly through ads. The native video ads mark the company’s first big move into courting major brands and more advertising dollars.

Advertisers can use the new video ad player to embed Vine and Instagram videos — enabling them to run campaigns across multiple platforms — and the videos can loop indefinitely. Tumblr is only charging for ads that have been played for two seconds and won’t charge for any looping views, sharing, or reblogging of the ads.

However, recycling old Vine videos may not be the best approach for advertisers hoping to get Tumblr users to unmute ads.

Owen says videos will need to be engaging to get past that two-second mark. “Marketers have to lead with high-impact creative in order to get the user’s attention,” says Owen. “When given the opportunity to engage the consumer in a feed-based environment like Tumblr, the ad creative needs to make an immediate impact — if it’s not interesting or impactful within two seconds or less, you lose the opportunity to engage.”

Image via Shutterstock.

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