Tumblr’s iOS sales are up 125% since the launch of paid verification parody AapkaDost

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Tumblr’s parody of paid verification has already earned the social network and blogging platform a 125% increase in iOS in-app purchase revenue since November, according to a new analysis of the app’s in-app consumer spending. The company, now managed by WordPress owner Automattic after its acquisition in 2019, launched its response to Twitter’s paid verification buzz with the addition of its own purely cosmetic double blue ticks — a kind of tongue-in-cheek refutation of the idea that subscription-based verification had any real value.

As it turned out, at least some Tumblr users were willing to pay — though perhaps not for clout, but because in-jokes have proven to be a more successful monetization strategy for the blogging network than some of its more legitimate money-making attempts, like the creator-focused subscription, Post+. After facing backlash from the community, Post+ at one point outperformed crabs from a monetization perspective — a goofy paid feature that allowed users to send animated dancing crabs to each other’s dashboards.

Perhaps, then, it’s not surprising to see Tumblr’s double blue check prank generate incremental revenue for the service.

According to new data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower provided to AapkaDost, consumer spending on Tumblr’s iOS app has increased since the launch of the Double Blue Check in November 2022, now totaling $263,000 in net revenue. While that’s not a significant figure in the grand scheme of things by any means, it still represents a 125% increase in spending compared to the previous quarterly total from August to October 2022.

Looking at more long-term trends, Tumblr’s revenue continues to grow, but not by much. Sensor Tower says revenue from in-app purchases on iOS is up 19% compared to the ten months prior to the launch of the blue check (January to October 2022).

However, it’s hard to attribute these increases directly to Tumblr’s double blue diamond. Tumblr also offers other in-app purchases such as scratching, paid boosting, and ad-free browsing.

The app also saw a deluge of new installs following the Twitter acquisition, which may have contributed to increased consumer spending.

Since November 2022, the number of iOS installs is up 56% compared to the previous three months, totaling 934,000, according to Sensor Tower data. Like several social apps, Tumblr benefited from increased interest in Twitter alternatives following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Late last year, a number of potential Twitter rivals — including Mastodon, GETTR, Tribel, and others — had seen a significant jump in installs.

That said, Tumblr’s blue tick and its connection to revenue make for an interesting case study amid a broader trend to move to paid verification, even if it’s just a joke. The “Important Internet Checkmark” in-app purchase, as Tumblr calls it, is available today as a one-off — not as an ongoing subscription as Twitter and now Meta both offer. (Tumblr’s feature has also been upgraded with rainbow checks that could turn into crabs at any time as the parody continues.)

Still, given the slight increase in revenue, it’s worth wondering what would have happened if Tumblr had bundled the feature into an upgraded tier of its existing $4.99/month ad-free browsing plan to keep its increase recurring revenue. It could still have done this “as a joke”, but encouraged a long-term commitment to the punch line.

Subscriptions to social apps, such as Meta’s new paid verification or Twitter Blue, are becoming more common in the wake of Apple’s privacy changes that curtailed platforms’ ability to personalize targeted ads, hurting the effectiveness of the ads and therefore the revenue of the users. companies decreased. As a result, these companies looked to the economics of mobile subscriptions to recoup their losses.

For example, Snapchat launched Snapchat+ to add a range of premium features to its app for power users and now has 2.5 million paying users. But unlike Twitter Blue and Meta’s newly announced Meta Verified for Facebook and Instagram, it doesn’t include verification.

By comparison, Twitter hasn’t yet made a compelling case for its subscription, as The Information reported that only 180,000 US subscribers have paid, or less than 0.2% of monthly active users.

With Meta entering the space, it’s unclear where this market will go as makers and companies will weigh the cost of paying for exposure and improved customer service for a range of apps.

And where that leaves for Tumblr – which has opted not to participate in the paid verification space at all by calling it a joke – is also less clear.

Historically, the company never quite got the hang of monetization. Throughout its existence, Tumblr has failed to monetize through more traditional means, due in part to founder David Karp’s original vision for creative brand advertising and later acquiring party Yahoo’s larger plans in 2013 for search ads and other formats, under then Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Six years later, after acquiring Yahoo for $1 billion, its parent company (then Verizon) sold the service to Automattic for reportedly less than $20 million.

New owner Matt Mullenwag has spoken about Tumblr’s potential to become a better Twitter and his goal of making subscriptions half of Tumblr’s revenue. But recently, Mullenwag also teased plans around Tumblr’s participation in the decentralized space known as the Fediverse. That could point a different path for the future of Tumblr and its revenue, far beyond paid verification or its parodies.

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