Tumblr’s Porn Ban-Related Pageview Drop Barely Registered Among Ad Buyers

All adult content was prohibited as of Dec. 17

Pageviews were down 19% in January compared with December.
Getty Images

Tumblr’s recent ban on pornography and adult content is taking a toll on its pageviews.

According to web analytics provider SimilarWeb, Tumblr totaled some 521 million pageviews last December, and that total slipped by over 19 percent in January, to 437 million.

Media buyers were largely unfazed by the news.

A spokesperson for Periscope said, “We don’t have clients asking to advertise on Tumblr, so we wouldn’t be able to provide a reaction regarding client spending or behavior changes.”

MediaCom said it has not seen any change in spending on Tumblr since the change was implemented, but it would not specify how much it is spending on the platform.

Some media buyers brought up other issues with Tumblr, unrelated to its purge of adult content and subsequent drop in pageviews.

Reprise senior vice president and head of media James Douglas cited the “inherent complexity” of buying and managing ad inventory within its parent company’s Oath Ad Platforms, adding, “Verizon has recently announced a better focus on content and contextual marketing, but I fear that the focus of most advertisers will be on ‘premium’ content within the Verizon community of sites and publishers, versus the user-generated content on Tumblr.”

Tumblr’s iOS application was pulled off the iTunes App Store last November, due to instances of child pornography not being caught by the site’s filters.

In response, the microblogging platform banned all adult content as of last Dec. 17, with its Help Center defining adult content as, “photos, videos or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts.”

Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio said in a blog post detailing the policy changes last December, “We spent considerable time weighing the pros and cons of expression in the community that includes adult content. In doing so, it became clear that without this content, we have the opportunity to create a place where more people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

A Tumblr spokesperson said this week, “We made a strategic decision for the business that better positions it for long-term growth among more types of users. This was the right decision.”

Douglas was not so sure of that, saying, “The key to focus with Tumblr is the concept of highly engaged, highly passionate communities of interest, which Tumblr was at the vanguard in developing. For advertisers, aligning to these passionate communities is ideal—but I fear that Tumblr has been superseded by Reddit or even Facebook groups for these conversations/communities.”

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