opinion

Tumblr Policy Changes Affect the Platform’s Traffic Potential

Stephen Yagielowicz

For adult marketers using the popular Tumblr.com service to promote their offerings, the site’s recent acquisition by Yahoo! and subsequent policy shifts have proven to be as unsettling as Google’s constant algorithm updates — hampering traffic flow and causing uncertainty over the platform’s future viability for porn promoters.

According to Tumblr’s most recent policy pronouncement, adult oriented content is allowed on the social blogging platform, but there are a few things the company needs publishers to consider:

It’s important to note that many savvy operators do not only rely on traffic directly from the Tumblr community, but use the site as a free, high-performance image serving platform that is readily integrated into social media sites and systems.

“Tumblr welcomes and encourages all forms of expression, but we have to be sensitive to the millions of readers and bloggers from different locations, cultures, and backgrounds with different points of view concerning mature or adult oriented content,” Tumblr’s adult content guidelines state. “There are a lot of people in our community who would rather not see this stuff and could even get in trouble if they did.”

The site refers users to its updated Terms of Service and Community Guidelines for a refresher on what is currently allowed and under what conditions.

Tumblr is striving to strike a balance between the needs of its various users; providing a porn-free viewing environment for those who do not want to see adult oriented content, by allowing them to enable a Safe Mode in their Dashboard Settings, after which Tumblr will attempt to prevent access to NSFW (“not safe for work”) blogs the user isn’t already following.

As for what operators should do if their blog contains adult oriented content, Tumblr offers an easy way out:

“If your blog contains nudity, mature or adult oriented content, please respect the choices of the people in our community and flag your blog NSFW from your Settings page,” Tumblr advises, noting that “Blogs can also be flagged by Tumblr if they fall into this category.”

At least for now, Tumblr seems to not be deleting or prohibiting adult materials, but discovery is another issue, as according to the company, blogs that are flagged NSFW will not appear in Tumblr’s search and discovery features for logged-out users or for logged-in users browsing in Safe Mode, and will only appear in Tumblr’s mobile search and discovery features for users who are already following your blog.

This is bound to negatively impact the traffic levels of adult-oriented Tumblr blogs — or at least that portion of their traffic derived from Tumblr itself, rather than sent in from other sources.

Those operators who feel that their blog was mistakenly flagged as being NSFW, or have removed the adult oriented content and now want to be unflagged, are advised to contact the site’s Trust & Safety team for re-inclusion in Tumblr’s discovery tools, restoring a level of opportunity to those that can nimbly play by the rules.

While users are still welcome to embed the content of their choosing, those rules also now include a prohibition against uploading video content of a sexually explicit nature. “Please don’t use Tumblr’s Upload Video feature to host any sexually explicit videos,” the site’s community guidelines state. “We’re not in the business of profiting from adult oriented videos and hosting this stuff is fucking expensive. You can use services like xHamster to host those instead.”

The company’s use of the word “fucking” in its legalese provides some hope that its open minded culture will remain at least somewhat intact as it is gobbled into Yahoodom, and its mention of tube powerhouse xHamster shows that the company may be interested in finding alternatives, but there are clearly issues beyond its range of tolerance.

It’s important to note that many savvy operators do not only rely on traffic directly from the Tumblr community, but use the site as a free, high-performance image serving platform that is readily integrated into social media sites and systems such as WordPress, delivering (and satisfying) a deeper level of traffic than the blog itself delivers.

That being considered, there’s no doubt that many adult-oriented Tumblr blogs were setup with the sole intention of dragging some of the network’s audience to porn offers, and on this level, the folly of relying on someone else’s infrastructure to power your own business becomes apparent.

For a closer look at how Tumblr’s policy changes are affecting the popular blogging platform’s true traffic potential, we turn to members of the XBIZ.net community of adult entertainment industry professionals:

Toby Ross of BigDikFactory told XBIZ.net that although he feels his content is not hardcore but rather softcore (“erections and hand jobs is my line in the sand,” he states), he has still had content removed by Tumblr, ostensibly due to some violation of the site’s Terms of Service or Community Guidelines.

“Marissa Mayer the CEO of Yahoo! who is now the top dog at Tumblr has declared that porn is allowed on Tumblr, however we do not even do hardcore so I really don’t know why [my blog was deleted],” Ross wrote. “I would love to have her contact info and ask her directly. Maybe some ‘yahoo’ decided to execute moral judgment on their own. I am ready for war here.”

Kelli Roberts of Kelli Internet Services notes seeing a lot of porn on Tumblr and questions where the limits of acceptability lie.

“What’s the line? Tits OK? Blow jobs no?” Roberts asks, wondering if the limit is “Something along those lines?”

It is the type of nebulous uncertainty that stems from a lack of bright line guidelines.

Eddie Nash of Blue City Pictures notes the need to add the hashtag #NSFW and #XXX but adds that the company has been successfully publishing images to its Tumblr page at bluecityxxx.tumblr.com for a long time without issue.

Damian asks why anyone would depend on a free hosted blog service when $5 per month will buy you a virtual hosting account with unlimited WordPress installations, to which ppmedia replied that one simple reason is because Tumblr utilizes a robust CDN that outperforms the capabilities of virtual hosts.

This led to an interesting discussion as to Tumblr’s search engine marketing benefits, which will likely change as adult material on the platform is purged from many search engines’ listings. Also up for discussion was the enormous social media benefit of using Tumblr as an integral part of an overall social marketing strategy.

Chief of Bossy-girls.net agrees that Tumblr has some use as a social platform and uses its blog at superb-femdom.tumblr.com to promote the parent site among people who seek femdom media.

SGS of SGY-Marbella-Spain says that most of the good traffic on Tumblr is being generated by enthusiastic amateurs by accident and notes that the company sends all of its Tumblr traffic to a unique link and then measures conversions from there.

Geoff of Gecko Publishing wanted to know more about measuring the conversion rate of Tumblr, confiding that he receives a reasonable amount of traffic from his only blog at glamourmages.tumblr.com and according to Google Analytics, these visitors stay as long as any other source of traffic and view as many pages.

Changing the subject, Wouj of wouj.com advises folks to never post their account information or URL on a webmaster forum as others will try to close it and notes that it took several experiments before he found something that worked.

“Now I am gaining 3000 followers (and increasing) a day,” Wouj wrote. “It’s the easiest way to make sales.”

Evil Chris of SexKey.com tells XBIZ that he hasn’t noticed any drop in his Tumblr traffic since the hoopla began, but notes that it has leveled off.

Apparently still satisfied with his blog’s results, LeRoy of Japanese webcam program DTI Cash says that he has “a bunch of them.”

Content is not the only problem are for Tumblr users, however, as TabooSonDad of DSI found out after having his account deleted because of violating the TOS of linking.“

We had tons of our porn on Tumblr and had linked our photos and GIF animations to sites that sold our homemade porn. We got a lot of traffic (and sales) from Tumblr links,” TabooSonDad told XBIZ. “Anyway, we just started up another Tumblr. We’ll see if we can behave ourselves more this time.”

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