Tumblr’s Secret Number

When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer officially announced the company’s blockbuster Tumblr acquisition, she didn’t shy away from the numbers. In fact, a good bit of Mayer’s blog post on the acquisition was devoted to rattling off a laundry list of Tumblr’s statistical accomplishments: 105 million different blogs. Over 300 million monthly unique visitors. 120,000 daily signups. 900 posts per second. 24 billion minutes spent on site each month. But one number, arguably the most important, was missing.

How many actual users does Tumblr have?

Or, to rephrase the question for Yahoo’s shareholders: How many living, breathing, income-having humans can Tumblr actually reach with its ads?

The answer, it turns out, wasn’t just left out of any announcement — it’s hard to come by. Twitter boasts about how many people log into its site every month; so do Facebook and Google. The monthly active user count is, in many ways, the most important number in tech. But if you ask Tumblr how many people log into their dashboards on a regular basis, your question will be met with silence. (Previous requests have been denied; another has been sent for good measure.)

In situations where such a number might be relevant, Tumblr tends to either divert attention or obfuscate. Take Tumblr’s ad deck, which explains out Tumblr’s primary “Dashboard” native ad product. According to the deck, which cites Quantcast figures from March 2013, Tumblr delivers “20 billion pageviews” and “225 million uniques a month.” This is true of Tumblr, the platform.

This is not true of Tumblr’s dashboard, which is only part of the Tumblr platform but is its only ad product. Why these numbers are in the ad deck is clear: they’re impressive. But that doesn’t mean they’re relevant.

Tumblr’s ad deck for its Dashboard product cites Quantcast to suggest the ads reach 225 million unique users each month (as of March 2013). static1.businessinsider.com

Unlike Facebook, where users are generally required to log in to use the service in any way, there are two ways to experience Tumblr: as a visitor to one of its millions of blogs, some of which are large, popular websites in their own right; and as a dashboard user. The dashboard, which avid users might refresh dozens of times a day, is very good at generating page views and “engagement” time. The sites, on the other hand, are very good at generating unique visitors who aren’t necessarily users.

Someone who stops by to gawk at Hot Dog Legs for three minutes, for example, is irrelevant to Tumblr’s advertising products. Much more relevant to advertisers than a global “uniques” number would be the active user number — the total potential audience of a Tumblr ad campaign.

Analytics firms, including Quantcast, which Tumblr allows to directly measure its traffic, are unable to separate the dashboard numbers from the unregistered blog views; they too conflate uniques and users, which seems to be how Tumblr wants it. Numerous sources BuzzFeed spoke with in the advertising industry confessed that not only did they not know the dashboard numbers, but that, in some cases, they weren’t aware of Tumblr’s big difference between a dashboard user and a unique visitor. One source pointed to a May article by Peter Kafka, which speculated Tumblr has between 30 and 50 million active users, as the best guess as to Tumblr’s monthly unique dashboard traffic. “It’s a back of the envelope way to back into it, but it’s the best best/only guess I have seen,” the source said.

Assuming that estimate is in the ballpark, which most sources agreed to be the case, Tumblr is a very different service than portrayed in its ad deck — a 30 to 50 million-user web service that is substantially smaller than either Twitter or Instagram. And while it isn’t exactly unheard of for an ad deck to fluster clients with a parade of confusing numbers, Tumblr’s feels especially misleading — it implies, unsubtly, that ads can reach a potential audience of 225 million people. In reality, that number is almost certainly much, much lower.

That’s not to say that Tumblr is lying to advertisers. Its promises are carefully worded and guarantee impressions and proportional reach. Tumblr’s dashboard ad unit, Radar, draws more than 120 million daily impressions, and the network’s user base is fanatical enough that the ads are put in front of enough eyeballs to meet clickthrough requirements. And it would be an extremely large campaign that needed to reach more than 30, or 50, million users.

Former Tumblr editor in chief Chris Mohney sees this as a non-issue. “Anything’s possible, but, in my opinion, Tumblr has little reason to mislead in an ad deck,” Mohney said in an email. “People fluff those numbers when trying to achieve a certain threshold or play in a certain league, and even a reduced figure puts Tumblr above such concerns really.”

But if Tumblr is truly “above such concerns,” the question remains: Why not share how many users it has?

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/tumblrs-secret-number

Welcome Aboard The USS Brogrammer

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/welcome-aboard-the-uss-brogrammer

New BlackBerry Video Could Not Be More Embarrassing

1. RIM hasn’t had a hit BlackBerry phone in years. This video about BlackBerry 10, aimed at developers, isn’t going to help:

2. I mean…

3. Someone, probably a millionaire with a VP title, had to sign off on this:

4. THIS WAS POSTED ON THE OFFICIAL BLACKBERRY YOUTUBE CHANNEL:

5. Here’s the product they’re talking about, by the way:

RIM announced a few more details about the platform — mainly, Facebook and Twitter apps — at an event today. There are more details at the Verge, but it still looks like far too little, far too late.

Just five years ago, RIM was the most powerful smartphone maker in the world. Now, this:

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/new-blackberry-video-couldnt-be-more-embarrassing

Republican #IWantRepeal Campaign Goes Horribly Wrong

The NRCC’s campaign, which was promoted under the #iwantrepeal tag on Twitter, went well for a little while. People were signing their names as planned, and #iwantrepeal even looked like it might trend. So why was Teddy Goff, the Obama campaign’s digital director, telling his followers to check out the site?

Because at some point, the NRCC had lost control to the trolls:

At first, a hand would pop into frame and pluck away the offending submissions:

Later, though, the hand stopped showing up. Then came the deluge.

Either the campaign was halted or the printer ran out of paper. In any case, the system had been overwhelmed with jokes for the better part of 10 minutes. Viewers were left with final fake-sounding real name.

A tidy lesson about life on the internet.

H/t to @stuef and Wonkette.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/republican-iwantrepeal-campaign-goes-horribly-wro

How Nine Jurors Could Change Tech Forever

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/how-nine-jurors-could-change-tech-forever

Pinterest Accidentally Built A Better Search Engine Than Google

Pinterest was built for *discovery* but with its recent acquisition of Punchfork and real upgrades to the search feature, the user experience has vastly improved. While Pinterest search results can be broad and a little all over the place, it can actually be more useful than Google’s bread-and-butter product.

Google, you are SO obvious.

2. 1. Pinterest search for STRIPES: clothes, art, design

3. Google search for STRIPES: stripes

4. 2. Pinterest search for RUFFLES: dresses, skirts, cakes, ruffles!

5. Google search for RUFFLES: chips

6. 3. Pinterest search for BLUE: a kitchen, sunset, candles, a church, paint, ~ambience~

7. Google search for BLUE: the color

8. 4. Pinterest search for CHEVRON: table runners, clothes, handbags, art, design

 

9. Google search for CHEVRON: hello OIL

10. 5. Pinterest search for ANGRY: cute and irritated animals plus one kid in timeout

11. Google search for ANGRY: crappy stock images

12. 6. Pinterest search for COOKIES: Oreos, a candle, chocolate-dipped, fancy, packaged

13. Google search for COOKIES: chocolate chip BORING

14. 7. Pinterest search for EGGS: bird eggs, painted, pink, hard boiled, eggs on tomatoes, eggs on toast

15. Google search for EGGS: stuff from a chicken’s butt

16. 8. Pinterest search for CALIFORNIA: lofts, water, bridges, filters, camp sites, bridges, sunshine

17. Google search for CALIFORNIA: maps

 

18. 9. Pinterest search for IPHONE: cookies, covers, stars, stripes, skulls, iphones

19. Google search for IPHONE: iphones

20. 10. Pinterest search for LOVE: nothing?

21. Google search for LOVE: better than Pinterest

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/ashleym36/pinterest-accidentally-built-a-better-search-engine-that-goo

Facebook Doesn’t Care About Joe Biden

Just a couple weeks behind Twitter, Facebook has gotten into the political data game. Like Twitter’s Political Index, Facebook’s Election Insights tool (hosted by CNN) was created in conjunction with a third-party data processing company; Facebook used Mass Relevance while Twitter worked with Topsy.

It’s a fairly straightforward indicator of how much a specific candidate is being mentioned, a metric that won’t be that useful until we all have some time to get used to its correlation with other, more established indicators. But one thing does stand out: Biden. His is the saddest trend line, flat and low and appropriately almost a grayish blue. He has just 367k likes as of today; Paul Ryan, who passed him within two days of being announced as Mitt Romney’s VP, is nearing 2m.

Just for kicks, I added up the Facebook likes for Onion Joe Biden, an uncannily well imagined alternate universe VP character who loves his Trans Am almost as much as he loves the ladies. It’s not quite 367k, but the 75.8k figure I came up with is both respectable and probably a little low. The Onion, however, which posts all its Joe Biden stories to its newsfeed, has over 2m followers.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/facebook-doesnt-care-about-joe-biden

Is The New FCC Chairman Going To Let Net Neutrality Die?

Jason Reed / Reuters / Reuters

Last night, in the same venue that hosted this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, over 1,600 communications industry professionals — lobbyists, lawyers, regulators — gathered together for what insiders call the “Telecom Prom.” On stage, freshly appointed FCC Chair Tom Wheeler rattled off some jokes. “Understand the priorities of the new chair,” he teasingly suggested to lobbyists in the audience. “For example, if he’s a grandfather, don’t wait to ask him to pull out the pictures of the grandchildren.”


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Wheeler put on a good show. But at some tables, the topic centered around another performance by the chairman, delivered a few days earlier at Ohio State University. During a Q&A session following the chairman’s first formal public address, he uttered a surprising line. Asked about tiered internet access and “data hogs,” he said the following:

I think we’re also going to see a two-sided market where Netflix might say, ‘Well, I’ll pay in order to make sure that you might receive, my subscriber might receive, the best possible transmission of this movie.’ I think we want to let those kinds of things evolve.

To net-neutrality supporters, who want to prevent internet service providers from prioritizing, or charging for, different types of internet traffic, this was extremely alarming. Michael Weinberg, a vice president at pro-net-neutrality nonprofit Public Knowledge, sounded the alarm immediately. “This is, of course, exactly the type of market that net neutrality is designed to prevent,” he wrote the next day. “If Chairman Wheeler’s version of net neutrality is different from everyone else’s version of net neutrality, we need to know that sooner rather than later.”

A spokesperson for Free Press, another pro-net-neutrality group, told BuzzFeed, “We are concerned about the two-sided market,” and pointed us to a blog post on the organization’s site. “There was a lot to like” about the speech, the post says, but the answers given during the Q&A “were more than a little troubling.”

It continues: “Allowing ISPs to charge for prioritization would encourage artificial scarcity, depress competition, harm online innovation and threaten the very existence of the open Internet.”

Wheeler’s past as a cable and wireless industry lobbyist, as well as an enthusiastic response to his appointment from AT&T and Comcast, put internet watchdog groups on high alert all the way back in May. Wheeler has since tried to assuage worries, to little effect. In November, Fortune described Wheeler’s goals for net neutrality to be “anybody’s guess.”

Wheeler did not address the Ohio State comments during his speech at the Federal Communications Bar Association dinner last night, despite considerable pressure from the press. “It was certainly something people were talking about on the floor,” said Public Knowledge’s Weinberg. “I did talk to some folks on the FCC staff, and they’re clearly aware that this is a thing.” The closest he came was a spectrum joke: “There’s a good supply of good wine here tonight, but it’s a limited supply, so AT&T and Verizon, we’re going to have to ask you to limit.”

In response to a request for comment, an FCC staffer supplied excerpts from the chairman’s speech, suggesting that its content was a better representation of his views, and noting that during the same Q&A, the chairman expressed general support for net neutrality.

To critics of net neutrality, the speech came as a more welcome surprise. “Especially with this Ohio State speech, it sounds like Wheeler is a little more industry friendly than [former chairman] Genachowski was,” says Brent Skorup of the libertarian Mercatus Center at George Mason University says. “I think that’s what Public Knowledge and Free Press are worried about.”

“And frankly I think his Ohio State speech about allowing usage-based pricing, and penalizing data hogs, and openness to two-sided markets — I can’t remember Genachowski speaking as well about those sorts of things,” Skorup told BuzzFeed. It wasn’t until the Q&A session that the word “neutrality” was used; in the relatively brief speech, however, “market” and “markets” were invoked over a dozen times.

A lot rides on an upcoming court decision, due soon, regarding the enforcement of the FCC’s Open Internet Order, a somewhat soft but largely pro-net-neutrality regulation drafted and instituted during Genachowski’s tenure. Verizon filed a lawsuit against the FCC, claiming that it did not have the authority to enforce such rules, and the DC Court of Appeals recently heard oral arguments. It’s unclear which way it will go: If the FCC loses, and important parts of the OIO are stuck down, the FCC can either attempt to take the case to the Supreme Court or reclassify broadband as a common carrier telephone service, which would give it clearer authority to regulate.

“I don’t think the FCC would contemplate Title II classification,” says Skorup. “We may go back to the way it was 10 years ago, with ex-post enforcement,” he says, referring to a case-by-case enforcement situation his organization would be happy with, and which alarms net-neutrality advocates. It would, essentially, hand the issue of net neutrality to antitrust courts.

For now, both sides are holding their breath. An FCC oversight hearing scheduled for next week will require testimony from all five FCC commissioners, who will be asked for broad updates on the commission’s policies. “The conventional wisdom expectation is, if he’s going to address this, that would be the logical place to do it,” says Weinberg. “It’s pretty clear that the FCC and [Wheeler’s] office are aware these comments raise concerns,” he says. “The ball is in their court.”

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/is-the-new-fcc-chairman-going-to-let-net-neutrality-die