From a Forbes interview with David Karp on his plans for Tumblr:
The opportunity I see is to allow marketers, advertisers to once again make awesome content and put it in the mix with other awesome content. That’s what those products are that we’ve rolled out and are starting to really scale up now. It’s in spots on Tumblr where we feature great content now. Where, by the way, spots that have existed for like four years, so this is really not stuff that we’re really adding into the system. We’re taking those spots where we feature great content on Tumblr and we’re allowing marketers to take over five percent of it; take over a sliver of it, drive real attention to their creative content. The work that we’re doing now is really pushing these marketers to understand that even though it’s the Internet, they really do need to work at making great content.
My thoughts: He makes a great point in the interview about how today’s online advertising is cookie-based, intent-focussed, where earlier – for example in the Mad Men era – they weren’t: they were more based on creating desire, fostering ambition. Clearly they’re already doing this at Tumblr, but I wonder if there’s a role for more platforms to make it an advertising pre-requisite – to make sure ads on their site are polished enough to be a sort of digital version of the Louis Vuitton ads in Vogue. Arguably, many brands, especially the luxury ones, already do this. But if it’s a question of extending that finesse to insurance, FMCG or high street brands, perhaps that’s a business model more platforms could look at more actively?
Such ad-gatekeeping platforms already do exist in some form; the Deck Network, for example, which specifies adherence to an ad format in order to be included in their roster of advertisers.
Unless, like Andrew Sully or Jason Kottke, (and remember they are individuals rather than platforms) you can get enough people to pay for your content (and we also know about the still-raging debate on paywalls), maybe this is one way to elevate the advertising environment without blocking revenue opportunities. We’ve largely moved on from pop-up ads and those awful GIF-type ads in Sans Serif that hurt our eyes, perhaps it’s time for more people to move on to the next stage in the evolution of online ads.