According to a new study of in-app consumer spending, Tumblr’s parody of paid verification has increased iOS in-app purchase income by 125% since November. After its 2019 purchase by WordPress owner Automattic, the company responded to Twitter’s paid verification scam by adding its own cosmetic double blue checks as a joke.
As it turns out, some Tumblr users were ready to pay—perhaps not for clout, but because in-jokes have been a more successful monetization strategy for the blogging network than its creator-focused subscription, Post+. Crabs, a silly paid feature that lets users post animated dancing crabs to each other’s dashboards, outperformed Post+ in monetization after community backlash.
Thus, Tumblr’s double-blue check joke may have increased income.
Since November 2022’s double-blue check launch, consumer spending on Tumblr’s iOS app has grown to $263,000 in net revenue, according to Sensor Tower data provided to TechCrunch. Compared to August through October 2022, that’s a 125% increase in spending.
Tumblr’s long-term income growth is less dramatic. Sensor Tower says iOS in-app purchase revenue is up 19% from the ten months before the blue check’s debut (January through October 2022).
However, Tumblr’s double-blue check may not have caused these rises. Tumblr sells crabs, paid boosting, and ad-free viewing in-app.
After Twitter acquired the app, new installs increased, which may have increased customer spending.
Sensor Tower reports 934,000 iOS apps since November 2022, up 56% from the previous three months. After Elon Musk’s Twitter conquest, Tumblr and other social apps gained popularity. Mastodon, GETTR, Tribel, and others saw significant installation increases late last year.
Even though it’s a joke, Tumblr’s blue checkmark and income make for an intriguing case study in a trend toward paid verification. Tumblr’s “Important Internet Checkmark” in-app payment is one-time, unlike Twitter and Meta. As its parody proceeds, Tumblr has added rainbow checks that can turn into crabs.
Given the slight revenue increase, it’s worth pondering what would have happened if Tumblr had bundled the feature into an upgraded tier of its $4.99/month ad-free browsing subscription to boost recurring revenues. It could have done so “as a joke” but promoted long-term commitment to the punchline.
After Apple’s privacy changes, social app subscriptions like Meta’s new paid verification or Twitter Blue have become more popular. Apple’s changes limited platforms’ ability to personalize targeted ads, reducing their efficacy and revenue. These companies turned to the mobile membership economy to recover.
Snapchat+, which adds premium tools for power users, has 2.5 million paid users. It doesn’t verify like Twitter Blue and Meta’s new Meta Verified for Facebook and Instagram.
Twitter has only 180,000 U.S. customers, or 0.2% of its monthly active users, according to The Information.
Creators and businesses will weigh the cost of paying for exposure and better customer service across a variety of apps with Meta entering the market.