Since launching its parody of paid verification, Tumblr iOS revenue increased 125%
March 5, 2023
This is the fallout from Tumblr’s paid verification travesty, which has already provided the social network and blogging platform with a 125% increase in iOS purchase revenue since November, according to a new analysis of in-app consumer spending.
A response to Twitter’s paid verification
The company, now operated by WordPress.com owner Automattic, launched its response to Twitter’s paid verification with the addition of its own purely cosmetic double-blue controls, a sort of tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to the idea that subscription-based verification had any real value.
According to new data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower provided to TechCrunch, consumer spending on Tumblr’s iOS app increased since the launch of the double blue check in November 2022, and now stands at $263,000 in net revenue. While that is not a significant figure in the grand scheme of things by any means, it still represents an increase in spending compared to the previous three-month total from August to October 2022. Sensor Tower also says the in-app purchase revenue on iOS is up 19%, compared with the prior ten months ahead of the blue check’s launch.
It turns out that at least some Tumblr users were willing to pay, though not because of their influence, but because inside jokes have proven to be a more successful monetization strategy for the blog network than some of its more legitimate attempts to make money, such as its creator-centric subscription, Post+.
Flood of new installations
The app additionally saw a flood of new installations since November 2022. As an example, iOS installs jumped 56% compared to the prior three months, totaling 934,000, Sensor Tower’s data indicates. Like several social apps, Tumblr benefited from being an alternative following Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. Late last year, several would-be Twitter rivals (including Mastodon, GETTR, Tribel, and others) had seen a sizable jump in installations.
An interesting case study
Amid a broader trend to move toward paid verification, given the slight bump in revenue, it is 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 subscription to boost its recurring revenues. It could have still done so “as a joke,” but encouraged a longer-term commitment to the punchline.
Subscriptions to social apps, such as Meta’s new paid verification or Twitter Blue, have now become more common, all in the wake of Apple’s privacy changes, which limited the platforms’ ability to personalize targeted ads, decreasing ad effectiveness and thus companies’ revenue. As a result, these companies have turned to mobile subscription economics to offset their losses.
Is it justified or not to add a paid subscription to social networks?
Snapchat launched Snapchat+ to add a range of premium features to its app for power users and now has 2.5 million paid users. But it does not include verification.
By comparison, Twitter has not yet made a convincing argument for its subscription, as The Information reported only 180,000 U.S. subscribers have paid, or less than 0.2% of its monthly active users. Now, with Meta now entering space, it is unclear where this market will head as creators and businesses will weigh the cost of paying for exposure and improved customer service across a range of apps.