Testing StumbleUpon Ads

Business by on August 23, 2007 at 9:47 pm

This post has sat half-written for a while, so I finally decided to finish it…

I’ve immensely enjoyed StumbleUpon as a user, so I decided to play with StumleUpon Ads to understand how it might be effective.


Given the increasing complexity of AdWords, StumbleUpon Ads are refreshingly simple.

You need $50 to run your first ad. You choose a URL, a category and a daily budget and you have the option of specifying a geography and a demographic. You then pay 5 cents per visit.

That’s it.

StumbleUpon Ads Setup

You’ll notice in the above graphic that Stumbleupon shows you the number of users by category. Who would have thought that there were 25K users are ‘subscribed’ to the post modernism category?

There is a short wait for approval that took ~1 business day to process. Your page then gets inserted into users’ Stumble-streams. The toolbar for ad-inserted pages look like this (note the mouseover of the little green man):

StumbleUpon Sponsored Icon


Again, super simple. A typical set of campaign stats looks like this:

StumbleUpon Ads Stats

Without a doubt the coolest metric is the percentage of users that gave the page a thumbs up or a thumbs down. This is a super addictive number, and I found myself extremely interested in comparing this number for multiple content types.


I tested 4 campaigns:

Campaigns to my blog:

I brought 522 visitors to my blog for $26. On average, they viewed 1.16 pages (vs. 1.66 from general traffic) and spent 1 min 38s on site (vs 5:25). I roughly added 5-10 readers to my RSS feed ($2.50 to $5 a subscriber). I also added several stumbleupon friends that liked had given the site a thumbs up.

In addition, the visitors added 4 comments to my posts.

The readers rated my content:

  • Hummer vs Airline: 3.1% Up, 0.3% Down
  • ISOs vs. NSOs: 0.7% Up, 0% Down

The short visits were expected, although I was surprised that they spent as long as they did on site. Neither of the posts hit viral success, and I didn’t receive any additional non-purchased traffic.

All in all, I was relatively pleased with the performance of StumbleUpon Ads. I would definitely recommend it for for new blogs that are hoping to build an audience.

Campaigns to CouponLooker and Drivl:

I ran both of these campaigns because I was fascinated with the thumbs up percentage stats and I wanted to see how they compared against a known success and Couponlooker.

  • Drivl: 8.9% Up, 0% Down
  • CouponLooker: 1.6% Up; 0% Down

Although the TU% was low, users visited 1.67 pages. Roughly 2/3 of the visitors visited another page. However, only 2% clicked on a coupon that they found. This wasn’t too surprising. Coupon search is very much an as-needed search, not something you really do in your free time.

The Drivl page was popular a long time ago and I’ll presume that it doesn’t get the draw it once had. 9% is probably a lower limit for a truly viral success. I would suspect in its early days, it probably saw a higher Thumbs Up %.

General thoughts


  1. sa — August 24, 2007 @ 10:32 am

    interesting! wasn’t aware of this sort of thing. do you think it is useful for traditional online sales (ie products, services, etc)?

  2. mathew johnson — August 24, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

    so funny – i was reading through blog posts on stumble ads – and found yours through organic search that way – i hadn’t seen it already.

  3. Dave Naffziger — August 24, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

    No, I don’t think it would be that useful for traditional online sales. It doesn’t seem like users are really in the purchase mode, but that is just me inferring.

  4. Dharmesh Shah — August 25, 2007 @ 11:51 am

    Thanks for the article.

    I have been using StumbleUpon ads for several web properties for a few months (spending more than $1,000 month).

    I agree that the traffic is reasonably good and I like the simplicity too. However, I have two primary issues:

    a) StumbleUpon doesn’t support passing parameterized URLs that can be used to track that it is paid SU traffic (vs. unpaid SU traffic).

    b) The “approval” percentage number is the same across all categories of ads purchased. It does not tell you that those that were shown the ad that were in the “accounting” category approved the link x% whereas those in the “religion” approved the link y%

    But overall, my experience has been positive.

  5. Dave Naffziger — August 27, 2007 @ 9:00 am


    Thanks for the insight – you’re definitely one of the larger StumbleUpon advertisers I’ve interacted with.

    Are you driving commerce, or content interaction? I’m curious how you’ve been measuring the success of the advertising.

    Great points on the limits. The performance could certainly be different for paid and unpaid Stumbles.

  6. StumbleuponAds? Oh really? — September 12, 2007 @ 6:48 am

    […] Naffziger […]

  7. usaHotAds.com — August 5, 2009 @ 4:20 am

    We are about to post our first campaign. Are you able to choose multiple groups? or do you have to choose just 1 group per capaign?

  8. Kwbs (K.B.) Teo — February 17, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

    Nice work. Thanks for sharing. I’m thinking about testing it out as well. I’m from buzzgrowl.

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