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Tumblr debuts auto-play video ads

Tumblr is launching its first auto-paying video ads, with Universal, CW, and Hulu already on board as the Yahoo-owned blog network looks to boost its revenues.

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The new ads will appear in Tumblr users’ feeds on auto-play, but with the sound muted by default (auto-play video ads will only be enabled for the Android and iOS apps when a user has a Wi-Fi connection).

The new ad units, called "sponsored video posts," arrive just a week after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced during the company's third-quarter earnings presentation that Tumblr is projected to generate $100 million in 2015. Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1 billion in 2013, and the blog network only made $13 million in 2012.

The new ads will be on a "cost per view" model; the site has taken a growing place in Yahoo's ad business, recently been tasked with hosting its native ads.

Universal plans to use the online video ads to promote its November 14 release of Dumb and Dumber To, and the CW will highlight two of its new fall shows, The Flash and Jane the Virgin.

Additionally, Hulu will pay for ads to promote its “For the Love of TV” campaign.

Tumblr is also working with Lexus, JCPenney, and Unilever’s Axe in addition to the three initial media companies.

Online video advertising is a lucrative field, commanding far higher prices than traditional digital display ads. High costs combined with rapid growth have led to an influx of online video competitors, most notably Facebook.

The auto-play tactic has work extremely well for Facebook, but whether this will work for Tumblr’s young web-savvy blogging audience remains to be seen.

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