Yesterday, Tumblr rolled out Tumblr Blaze to all users over 18 in the United States. The feature lets users promote their content in the same way you might boost a tweet or a Facebook post on those respective platforms — you pay a set fee between $10 and $150, and you’ll get an estimated 2,500 to 50,000 impressions on your post.
But when you release a feature called Blaze literally the day before 4/20, you have to make a 4/20 joke. Today only, Tumblr is letting users try out its newest attempt at monetizing the so-called “hellsite” by offering Blaze pricing at $4.20 (good), $54.20 (not that funny, clearly a money grab), and $420.00 (who would do this?).
According to Tumblr, over 48% its of users are Gen Z, and if you want to cater to a young audience, you have to know what they think is funny. The company just pulled off a successful, crustacean-fueled April Fools’ prank, but Tumblr didn’t want to quit while it was ahead. Does Gen Z think 4/20 jokes are funny? I don’t know, I’m a millennial.
420 jokes aside, Tumblr Blaze might actually make the social network some cash. You can’t ironically post something with Post+, Tumblr’s controversial paywalled subscription product. But you can ironically Blaze (lol) a post. So far, it seems like most Tumblrites are just using the feature to shitpost, like this person who spent actual dollars to make people see the opening paragraphs to the seminal fan fiction work “My Immortal.” But a payment is a payment, so who cares?
In the last year alone, Tumblr has tried to profit through paid ad-free browsing (sponsored posts don’t appear for these users), a subscription product and a tip jar, marking some of the first paid features on the longstanding blogging site. And despite nostalgic looks at Tumblr from outlets like The New Yorker and The Atlantic, the platform has failed to grow its user base significantly since its fateful porn ban in late 2018.
According to analytics firm Similarweb, Tumblr has not experienced a significant uptick in monthly visits worldwide on mobile and desktop since last summer. Within this time frame, the highest number of monthly visits was about 327 million in July 2021, while the lowest number of monthly visits was 270 million in February 2022. In July 2018, before the porn ban, Tumblr had nearly 600,000 visits in one month.
On the mobile app, Tumblr hasn’t seen much of an increase in downloads either. App analytics firm SensorTower told TechCrunch that adoption of Tumblr’s mobile app has also been trending downward year-over-year. In 2021, the app saw 8.8 million installs, down 25% year-over-year from 11.8 million in 2020.