Karp Cracks Advertising

Image representing David Karp as depicted in C...
Image by Matthew Buchanan / Flickr via CrunchBase
New York Times: Can Tumblr’s David Karp Embrace Ads Without Selling Out?
good design is not just about how a thing looks but rather about how a thing works. But maybe design is also about how a thing feels..... The design of Tumblr, the blogging tool and social network, is guided by feeling. ...... “Tumblr is David.” ...... Karp likes to talk about Tumblr less as a business than as a “platform for creativity.” ....... “Pretty much every large tech company today,” Karp said, is essentially “metrics driven.” ...... Karp chose not to operate that way. ...... He just feels that he sees something everyone else has missed. ..... “There is absolutely no learning curve.” ..... I sat in on the “all team” meeting Karp recently implemented as a Friday-afternoon ritual. I agreed to keep certain details confidential, but it was clear that Karp is thinking pretty hard about profitability. Tumblr has learned to assemble some data that advertisers want (and that it had previously not bothered to collect). ......... In the past year he has become engaged with the challenge of designing not just a product but a business. It’s quite distinct from the Zen experience of solitary problem-solving that is coding, but, he continued, “I’ve really gotten a kick out of trying to make running a company as Zen an experience as it can be.” ...... the kind of creative advertising that is “intended to make you feel something for the brand.” ...... “Can you remember the last Twitter ad you’ve seen, the last Facebook ad?” And so, he concludes, there is a huge, untapped opportunity. ...... Karp has said Tumblr could be “wildly profitable” overnight by simply incorporating conventional online ads into the platform, but he believes that would spoil the community and the creativity that have taken shape there. His proposed solution entails advertisers’ being just as creative and expressive as Tumblr users. For now, that means that a spot on the Tumblr dashboard generally used to highlight the company’s picks for the coolest stuff happening in its network will include occasional content from paid sponsors. The first participants included Adidas, Calvin Klein and the movie “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” generating more than $150,000 in revenue within a month. .......... “But I think I can make a pretty good case for — ” uncharacteristically, he stopped and gazed at the floor. Karp is rarely at a loss for smoothly delivered words, but now he seemed to be searching for something precise. He started and stopped again and then said what it is he believes in: “Following our hearts.”
In short, the Tumblr ads have to be part of the Tumblr experience.
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