MTV Is Monetizing Tumblr. So Why Can’t David Karp?

Use the hockey stick to score.

DigiDaily’s Mike Shields posted an article essentially telling Tumblr the time for monetization is upon them and speculating on possible strategies. No surprise, people have quite literally been doing this for years. Mr. Shields quotes Edelman EVP Steve Rubel parroting the party line. “They are all about getting organic growth. This is right out of the Fred Wilson playbook. Get users, users, users and get the press on board.” Rubel goes on to suggest copycatting “Twitter’s now red-hot ad business as a model for Tumblr.”

But here’s the thing. Tumblr has already has that organic growth they’ve been chasing. First there was the hockey stick-shaped graph and then the news that number of blogs on Tumblr bested WordPress, a company twice its age. Not to mention Lady Gaga, Rich Sanchez, and big brands like MTV have all signed up. We’d also hardly call Twitter’s ad business “red-hot,” especially with the FTC sniffing around.

But buried in the article is a little detail that seems like Tumblr is sleeping on, at least right now. In discussing MTV’s Tumblr strategy, Tom Fishman, senior manager of social media, said MTV felt free to play with the “Fuck Yeah” meme and webby photoshops like one they called the Hip Hop Food Pyramid because “We wanted to speak really authentically on Tumblr.” Of course, Mr. Fishman, who represents the MTV, also added, “We look at it as an extension of the brand. There is not an urgent need to monetize this.” But here’s the rub:

MTV’s Tumblr does feature promotional banners for shows like Teen Wolf. Since launch, it has attracted over 7,000 followers, while traffic to MTV from Tumblr has doubled.

Doubling the traffic and drumming up interest in its shows means MTV has already monetized it–for themselves. While we’d urge the folks at Tumblr not to be afraid that that old-school advertising will lose them users (look at Zuck!). We’d also say if big brands are making money off of Tumblr, Tumblr should be making money off the big brands.

MTV Is Monetizing Tumblr. So Why Can’t David Karp?