Imgur Aims to Augment its Revenue Model with Promoted Posts

Image of a group of green apples with one red apple meant to depict how native advertising conceptually fits within the context of a website
Imgur plans on offering to brands the opportunity to distribute promoted posts, a form of native advertising, which will be placed alongside of content shared by members of the Imgur community. Source of image:

An interesting article in Adweek discusses Imgur’s plans to offer promoted posts in 2015. Imgur is an image hosting site, where people can upload, edit and share photos for free. The company, which has been around since 2009, has increased its efforts recently to appeal to brands as a place to engage with consumers. This won’t be the first time that the company has offered ad placements on its website, but any prior efforts were viewed as experimental. These sponsored posts were approached by Imgur as a means of learning more about how best to offer native ads while not upsetting the company’s loyal user base in the process. One main difference between how Imgur has offered sponsored posts and how it plans to offer promoted posts will include the placement of promoted posts outside of the homepage. The delivery of promoted posts will also be triggered in response to a user clicking on regular content within the site.

For any marketer looking to further diversify their spending on advertising, Imgur boasts some attractive numbers. The platform has over 150 million users who spend an average of 10 minutes per session engaging with images and pages on the site. Over time Imgur has invested in efforts to encourage more brand managers to include Imgur within their marketing tactics. At the beginning of 2014 the company introduced an analytics solution onto the platform featuring the ability to track and analyze data related to the images that advertisers and Imgur Pro subscribers upload onto the site. Being able to offer analytics is almost a prerequisite for any platform that hopes to attract dollars from digital marketers.

Imgur’s newly hired VP of Market Development, Steve Patrizi, has noted that advertising in the form of promoted posts will come with some challenges for the platform. Most notably, the challenge of helping brands figure out how to engage with users. Imgurians (as users of the site are sometimes called) can be a very outspoken and unique group and have the power on Imgur to display their approval of an image in the form of an “upvote” or display their disapproval in the form of a “downvote.” Both actions influence the ability of an image to reach a larger audience. In addition, marketers who invest in promoted posts on Imgur won’t be able to target users of Imgur based on demographic data the way they are able to on Facebook or LinkedIn, so understanding the Imgur community will be a crucial component of achieving success on the platform. Imgur appears to be aware of this and in an attempt to help marketers feel more comfortable Imgur’s head of finance and operations published a post to provide some guidance on how brands can tell a story through the image sharing platform.

To help overcome the initial barrier to entry for many marketers it appears that the company has begun to build out a team of strategists and creative resources to help provide brands with the insights and skills necessary to develop effective marketing campaigns on the platform. If you’re interested in a more in depth look at how Imgur is building their marketing ranks check out the marketing and sales section within the company’s jobs page. At the time of this post there were seven jobs listed in the sales and marketing section on the jobs page of the site which seems like a substantial number when you consider that the company had somewhere between ten and a dozen total employees during 2013. Being able to help marketers in both small and large companies successfully navigate the learning curve that comes with using promoted posts on Imgur seems like a wise move.

As Imgur gets ready to offer promoted posts on its platform the company has begun to look for a few partners to work with early on.  For the long term, the company currently has a request for information form for advertisers set up on its website so that it can begin to connect with companies that would be interested in using promoted posts in the future. The page can be found here and one interesting item worth noting on the form is that the company has segmented interested companies into two groups in terms of monthly budgets: those over $20,000 per month and those under $20,000 per month.

From a marketing management perspective here are some questions to consider:

  • What kinds of brands do you feel are best suited for marketing on Imgur? Why?
  • As a marketing manager how would you measure the impact of a marketing campaign executed on Imgur?
  • Select a company that you believe would be a good fit for using promoted posts on Imgur. As a member of the sales team at Imgur what would be the main points that you would highlight in a sales pitch to this potential client?