StumbleUpon Ads Get Facelift As Twitter and Facebook Ad Competition Heats Up

StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery ad program has just received a new look. With other social networks like Twitter and Facebook investing heavily in new ad products, and increasingly blurring the line between organic social activity and paid promoted activity, StumbleUpon doesn’t want to be left behind.

Now, the ad system has received a facelift.  Mainly these are cosmetic changes, with no real substantive changes to the ad program.  Instead, advertisers get a new way to view and manage their account activity.

The new features include a new dashboard, a consolidated graph for campaign information, and new options for active and archived campaigns. Currently, advertisers have the ability to switch over to the new Paid Discovery dashboard once they’ve logged in, but they can still switch back to the old look.  Here’s one screen in the new dashboard (showing effective cost per visitor or CPV):

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery

How StumbleUpon Paid Discovery Ads Work 

If you are not familiar with StumbleUpon, it’s a relatively straightforward social content-sharing site.  StumbleUpon  guides users to browse through (“stumble”) sites and Web pages that have been shared and recommended by others. You click a button on a toolbar or app, and you arrive on a page that someone else has shared, according to your interests.  Rinse and repeat.

The advertising feature works much like the organic content sharing, as far as users are concerned.  Advertisers can pay to have their website’s page show up in the stream of content that users see while browsing. Advertisers can choose a target market, i.e., pick the category and who sees their page by specifying interests and demographic data.  Users will see Web pages that have been organically shared and also see pages that are inserted by advertisers who pay to have them displayed.

The Competition for Ad Money Heats Up

Twitter and Facebook have been turning up the heat under their ad offerings.  As those sites mature, investors demand returns — and that means ad revenue.

StumbleUpon – Ahead of Its Time

StumbleUpon was way ahead of its time.  The social sharing site has been around since at least 2002.  StumbleUpon Ads were introduced six years ago, back in 2006.   Along the way, the ads were rebranded as StumbleUpon Paid Discovery.

In the beginning, StumbleUpon advertisers paid 5 cents per click. Today there are two pricing levels.  Standard is 10 cents per click.  Premium (which guarantees top priority in displaying your page) is 25 cents per click.

Still, when you compare that with the cost of Google AdWords, the clicks are inexpensive.  StumbleUpon clicks are less focused on a conversion, however.  Unlike with Google or other search ads, the user is not already looking for what the advertiser offers — think of it as more of an unexpected “discovery,”  hence the name.

What StumbleUpon Ads Are Good For

If you’re trying to create awareness and drive traffic directly to your site by a young social audience, StumbleUpon Paid Discovery ads have a place.  A few years ago we tested StumbleUpon ads and found that they did indeed drive traffic  relatively inexpensively.  We mainly used them for a site we had purchased,, to increase awareness by an audience already attuned to blogs ( appeals to bloggers and many of the pages shared on StumbleUpon are blogs).

StumbleUpon ads are also good for new product launches, especially technology products that appeal to today’s young tech-hungry consumers.  StumbleUpon displays the Web page directly to the user (not an ad they have to click on) —  good for reaching audiences who normally ignore ads.

Finally, StumbleUpon ads can also trigger a viral organic “stumble” experience, leading to much higher traffic at no additional cost, as outlined in this post by Darren Rowse.

But the question is:  can StumbleUpon still compete with social networks like Twitter and Facebook that keep pushing the envelope in new ways?



Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

5 Reactions
  1. I have used StumbleUpon a hand full of times, do you know how many monthly visitors it has? It sounds like a great advertising opportunity.

  2. Thanks for the update on the new interface for StumbleUpon advertisers.

    I almost signed up. Twice.

    I’m just not sure how sticky the traffic will be.

    The Franchise King®

  3. I’ve used SU a few times, for myself and for some clients. The results were mixed. While it did drive alot of traffic, almost all of it were immediate bounces of the site. One campaign did get organic stumbles, which translated into hundreds of free stumbles for the page we were promoting.
    I found it’s not good for commercial purposes or for general homepage views, though it can be great for trying to get a piece of content more exposure, especially a visual like an infographic.