Since Tumblr first introduced in-stream sponsored posts in Spring 2013, more than 300 paid advertisers have gotten on board. The brand publishers contribute to an ecosystem of content creators and users who have posted more than 98.4 billion items, at an average rate of 83.3 million posts a day.
And, for marketers that want to get their messages in front of millennial eyeballs, it seems like it makes sense to advertise on the Yahoo-owned microblogging platform. According to comScore, Tumblr was the No. 1 social destination when it came to the amount of time spent on desktop in October. The average user spent 14 minutes per visit on its pages, while people who visited runner-up Facebook only spent 12 minutes.
David Hayes, Tumblr's head of creative strategy, said many brands are seeing success on its platform because it allows marketers to post a variety of mediums on its pages.
"On other platforms, you may be trafficking in one media form like photography or video. On Tumblr, you get to participate in all the forms," he said.
The most successful brand this year was AT&T, which is also sponsoring the Tumblr Year in Review. In the last several months, the Dallas-based company collected hundreds of thousands of notes—the social platform's key engagement metric.
Catherine Borda, AT&T Mobility youth strategy and marketing director, said that her brand pros decided to advertise on Tumblr because they were looking for a platform that would allow them to reach users both on mobile and desktop, as well as give free rein on the type of creative it wanted to post. The company decided to root its Tumblr campaign around consumers' mobile lifestyles.
"Tumblr has really great flexibility," Borda said. "That was a really important toy for us."
The telecommunications brand had the most popular sponsored brand post of the year. Its simple image, a text message bubble that reads "when you know what you want call me," collected more than 448,250 notes. The phrase was contributed by a young man on Tumblr. Borda said when AT&T asked him why he thought it was so successful, he shrugged his shoulders and explained that it's something that everyone experiences. The entire Tumblr campaign was created by AT&T and Virtue Worldwide, Vice's in-house creative services agency.
"Things like that resonate really well," she said. "This idea of mobile life and bringing using people's insights and their experiences creates things people want to reblog."
To promote its contest for a trip to Hawaii, St. Ives posted a GIF of waves of water washing up on bare feet. Nearly 175,000 people—apparently longing for an exotic vacation—engaged with the relaxing image.
Making a nod to the fact that people often get annoyed when others overdo it with body spray, Axe politely reminded people that you don't need more than a spritz to get the job done. It recommended that people say "axe" while spraying each side of their body. Upward of 152,580 people noted that advice.
With shoe brands becoming fashion-forward apparel, it's no surprise that Adidas' preview of its floral-themed sportswear proved popular on the microblogging platform. The image of two of its spring-worthy outfits went viral, garnering 122,680-plus engagements.
The telecommunications brand tapped into one of the Internet's most popular themes—cats—in its most successful Tumblr post. It called its fans to post a #catsie on the Web in order to win some swag from Virgin Mobile using a cute GIF of a cat taking a selfie, and more than 109,550 Tumbr users shared the post.
Everyone enjoys fashion fails on the runway, so Trolli incorporated its gummy snack with a model stumbling in a GIF—that is quite a trip. It was engaged with 98,520 times.
The iconic fashion brand's post showing a snippet of its new film, The Future is Gold, starring Charlize Theron collected over 92,270 notes.
The technology company's motivational saying—"obstacles are really opportunities in disguise"—encouraged more than 90,900 Tumblr users to share the words of wisdom.
Taking advantage of the fact that users can embed all kinds of Web mediums on Tumblr, Converse Music included a SoundCloud embed of its song "Hero," featuring Frank Ocean, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Diplo. The track, which also included vocals from the West Los Angeles Children's Choir, got over 68,470 notes.
GE connected with YouTube stars The Slow Mo Guys to show off superhydrophobic surfaces that keep ice off aviation equipment and wind turbines—or, in simpler terms, bouncing liquid molecules. Science sold well with the Tumblr crowd. The post collected over 66,110 notes.
Sometimes a simple image (and a few photo filters) is all you need for a successful Tumblr post. Aeropostale was able to win with a picture of a young woman wearing its Oh Hell Yeah shirt, collecting 63,590 notes on its post.
Taco Bell's clever response to someone asking if the brand was single showed that not only does it read what its commenters post, but it also understands pop culture. More than 55,900 people acknowledged the fast-food giant's thirst-quenching retort.
A GIF of a sparkler coupled with one of Katy Perry's most popular song lyrics was able to get more than 55,060 notes.
The restaurant chain enjoyed Tumblr user itslikeadisco's coffee monster doodle so much that it highlighted the animated sketch on its main page. It received over 52,415 engagements.
The personal hygiene brand used Tumblr to feature its Mom Song, which is about a mother having a difficult time letting go of her son. It embedded its 60-second commercial on its page, as well as links to the mp3 and lyrics. With more than 51,230 notes, it was clear that folks loved the track.
The energy drink has become synonymous with adventure sports. It reinforced its image with items like its most popular Tumblr GIF post, which featured a BMX rider taking his bike for a 360-degree spin. More than 45,975 people engaged with the post.
The CPG brand scored with felines, using a GIF to link to a new game—featuring laser-chasing cats—that it released on National Pet Day. The post garnered more than 43,990 notes.
The glasses maker ignored superstitious beliefs and posted an image of a black cat on Friday the 13th. Seems that Internet cats trump bad luck: The post was engaged with more than 42,920 times.
The fast-food chain used the popular, sarcastic Someecards meme to promote its Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger. Some 34,370 people appreciated the nod.
A GIF of one of the brand's iconic backpacks collected 33,910 notes while showing users they could customize the canvas with a design.