About a month and a half back Tumblr announced the launch of an ad network which would bring adverts to all the sites hosted on Tumblr.
Now the blog network is adding a new way to make money of off an ostensibly free service: affiliate links.
Here’s the announcement:
In a couple weeks we’re going to start adding something called “affiliate codes” to links on Tumblr that don’t already have one. Questions are healthy and natural, so let’s go through some:
What are affiliate codes? Basically, they tell a merchant that a customer came from Tumblr. And if there’s a sale, Tumblr may get a commission for the referral.
What’s going to change? Not much, really. Links will look and function exactly as they do now. Even personal affiliate codes, if you use them, will keep working normally.
Why are you doing this? One might argue that affiliate links can help slow or even reduce the cost of goods and services to zero as required for a truly post-capitalist economy.
Can I opt out? Of course. We wrote that right into our TOS. There’s a switch in settings that keeps Tumblr’s affiliate code off of links you post.
I have more questions. That’s why we wrote this FAQ.
Tumblr has experimented with a few different ways to generate in the three years since Yahoo bought them, but they didn’t really get serious about monetization until after Verizon bought Yahoo in July 2016.
It has been widely reported that Verizon bought Yahoo for the opportunity to sell ads next to Yahoo’s content, and that is certainly what is going on with Tumblr.
Verizon took what used to be a free service and added adverts which have a direct bandwidth cost for readers. To be fair to Verizon, Automattic has sold ads on its “free” WordPress.com hosting service for years, so it’s not a new idea.
But it is still a textbook case of why one should never count on a service staying free forever. Even if a company can be trusted to keep a service free, its new owner might have a different idea.
image by clasesdeperiodismo