StumbleUpon – To Advertise or Not?

Brief Background

StumbleUpon was started in 2001 by Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith, Justin LaFrance and Eric Boyd. It was sold to eBay in 2007, but the original founders bought it back.1

The Idea

“StumbleUpon uses collaborative filtering to create virtual communities of like-minded Web surfers. Rating Web sites update a personal profile (a blog-style record of rated sites) and generate peer networks of Web surfers linked by common interest. These social networks coordinate the distribution of Web content, so that users “stumble upon” pages explicitly recommended by friends and peers.

Giving a site a thumbs up results in the site being placed under the user’s “favorites”. Furthermore, users have the ability to stumble their personal interests like “History” or “Games”. Users rate a site by giving it a thumbs up, thumbs down selection on the StumbleUpon toolbar, and can optionally leave additional commentary on the site’s review page, which also appears on the user’s blog. This social content discovery approach automates the “word-of-mouth” referral of peer-approved Web sites and simplifies Web navigation.”1


In the USA, StumbleUpon is trumping use over all social media site referrals holding over a 50% share of the top 7 from August- November 2011.

On average, people spend 69 minutes on a session; that’s more than three times the average time on Facebook!3

What does this mean to businesses?

More than 60,000 brands, publishers and other marketers have used StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery platform to promote their products and services.2  Why?

According to StubleUpon, the reason advertising with them is so beneficial is that you get much more engaged and receptive traffic because those who stumble onto you are in the right mindset. They want to see you. Also, StumbleUpon can guarantee that you will be given traffic to your page, without the audience having to click through ads, and it will be the right kind of traffic. They can even target traffic locally. Perhaps best of all they use Google Analytics and advanced reporting so that you can better adapt your content to raise conversion.4

But does it work?

Most people I searched seemed to be willing to give StumbleUpon a shot, especially because the service is so cheap; just $.05 a view. And the traffic goes right to the page you want so you don’t have to create a banner ad or enticing image to get the visitors. After implementation, all of the bloggers I read had a correlating increase in traffic on their pages; however, they still weren’t very happy. Advertisers felt that their bounce rate went up, their conversion rate went down, and their cost per acquisition went up. Many complained that the audience wasn’t as targeted as Facebook. 567

On the other hand, the second Stumble I did landed me on a page covered in advertisments (who turns out to be a public case study on StumbleUpon’s “Advertise with us” pages). Turns out that StumbleUpon may have helped that company out a lot.

So my conclusion? It really depends on what you are going for. It’s great for getting eyes on your page, sharing, and awareness – but might not be worth it in turns of conversion and longevity of subscribers.

3Could StumbleUpon Advertising be an Overlooked Treasure?


About hayjo

Graduating in April from Brigham Young Unversity's Marriott School of Management, and have loved all of my time here! My husband and I will then be moving to Texas this summer just in time for it to be really heating up down there. I'm a reader, a volleyball player, and am happiest spending when time with my family. I am not a natural blogger and just writing can be a struggle, but it's great practice for the future.
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