Why are Fashion Brands Shying Away From Tumblr?

Engagement with sponsored content is on the rise. Perhaps it's a better advertising platform than we thought.
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Eliza Brooke
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Engagement with sponsored content is on the rise. Perhaps it's a better advertising platform than we thought.
Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty

At TechCrunch Disrupt in New York earlier this month, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer justified her decision to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion, noting that that 58 percent of Tumblr users engage with sponsored content, and 48 percent reshare it. Those numbers were pretty surprising: Forrester research recently named Instagram the most effective social media platform for brands to engage consumers, while Tumblr's popularity has waned.

So perhaps Tumblr users are happy to reblog branded content. But Mayer's comment is at odds with the fact that the number of fashion brands — especially higher-end ones — regularly using the platform has dipped.

"We have seen a great decline in brand presence on Tumblr, which is a negative forward looking indicator for the platform," Scott Galloway, founder of digital luxury consultancy L2, says.

According to an L2 report from February, prestige brands that previously used Tumblr have abandoned the platform while the adoption rate has also slowed. Instagram, on the other hand, is growing by leaps and bounds: 93 percent of prestige brands are on the platform, up from 63 percent in July 2013. And they're active: 43 percent post more than once a day, an average of 5.5 posts per week. 

As AdWeek reports, Instagram advertisements for brands like Michael Kors and Hollister have been remarkably successful since they launched six months ago. In fact, the advertisements create a kind of halo effect around the brand's posts overall: On average, organic posts show 60 percent higher engagement in the three days following a promoted post. 

Pinterest, too, launched promoted pins earlier this week, and we'll be looking to see how those perform among fashion and lifestyle companies.

So what does this mean for Tumblr? The platform is still a favorite for fashion fans, particularly young ones. If engagement is as good as Mayer says it is, perhaps it will be able to convince brands to start buying up sponsored posts again.