I’ll tumble for you… with conditions?

As you may have heard, there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle around Tumblr’s Fashion Week plans and perceived (or actual) favoritism and treatment of particular brands and industries (along with developers, but that’s a different story)

As summarized by Mashable’s talented style / design editor Lauren Indvik on her Tumblr:

The company is asking, in some cases, for sums upwards of $100,000 and CPMs as high as $70 (compare that to a nytimes.com front page takeover at a CPM of $2 to $3) for sponsorships during New York Fashion Week.

Among other things, marketers were upset that they were being asked to hand over $10,000 to host a private event with the 16 bloggers Tumblr is sending to FW (plus actual hosting expenses), when last year they were asked politely to do it for free. Mind, it’s not exactly customary for brands to pay for journalists to come to their events.

I invite you to read her story for more background – but wanted to add some thoughts of my own here (as I did on my reblog of her post)

I think the biggest problem with this whole situation, and indeed social media marketing, is this egalitarian belief that all content is created equal and should be weighted with the same respect. It isn’t, and probably never will be. Years of AdWords, AdSense and targeted display ads have proven ad much. But, now as it starts to come to social, the model gets messier – the product packages are still in their first “let’s throw this against a wall and see what sticks”.

The value proposition being presented with the package partnerships are indeed totally ridiculous, but sadly, I think you’re going to see social media service providers decide explicitly (in this case) or the marketplace (implicitly through bid prices on social media ad products like Promoted Tweets and Like ads) which content is more valuable simply based on which demographic it appeals to.

This has been happening for years on the traditional content side to meet advertiser and business needs – social networks monetizing their own content creators is just another example of this.

The *execution* if this process in SM however, clearly leaves a lot to be desired as what products can be built around these demographic needs is still an open question (see also Twitter’s struggles with an ad model).

But it will be a Wild West of a marketplace until companies can concretely define the value of social and providers can provide products at a fair market value.


  1. This post is a polite way of saying that in a new field, people will try to take advantage of good writers and content strategists, because the “newness” of social media lowers the cost of entry. Short-term corporate thinking that seeks to put everything at the same level for its own convenience neglects the true excitement that can be generated by valuing things for what they are worth.

  2. I don’t see an issue with this, and it’s because you have to look past the journalist thing. Each person, and Tumblr overall, is their own brand. For the money you pay, you’re getting branded content (kind of like a commercial). Marketers aren’t happy because suddenly they can’t get what they want easily anymore, and with Tumblr it’s not easy to get numbers for reports.

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