Basics of Paid Discovery Advertisements on StumbleUpon - dummies

Basics of Paid Discovery Advertisements on StumbleUpon

By Steve Olenski, Nick Robinson

StumbleUpon is a great platform for driving free traffic back to your website over time, but what if you need to gain traction quickly? If you have the time to build your network on StumbleUpon and share content every day, by all means forge ahead. In contrast to Paid Search options on search engines, StumbleUpon offers Paid Discovery as a way to drive traffic to your site.

What’s a Paid Search?

In simple terms, Paid Search is paying for ad placements in search engines based on keywords used by searchers. It is common for advertisers to only pay a fee when their advertisements are clicked.

The price of the clicks are determined by a number of factors including (but not limited to) what competitors are willing to pay for each keyword, keyword relevance to the ad, and the experience after the click, which is called the landing page. Ads are placed at the top or right side of the results page after you search for a keyword.


What’s a Paid Discovery?

Paid Discovery is the advertising system used by StumbleUpon, where advertisers pay for their web pages to be placed in the home page stream on or the StumbleUpon mobile application. Paid Discovery placements appear to be normal pieces of content.

To identify Paid Discovery content, you see a green icon or “Sponsored” label in the StumbleUpon toolbar at the top of the webpage or at the bottom of each content widget in the different content streams through StumbleUpon. Below is a Paid Discovery placement looks like if you randomly Stumble the content or if you click on the content in a feed within StumbleUpon.


The business models for Paid Discovery and Paid Search are quite similar in that they derive revenue from clicks; the revenue is based on pay per click. Pay per click means that, as an advertiser, you only pay a fee when someone clicks on an ad placement within the website or application.

While many similarities exist, you find some key differences in the way that an advertiser uses each method and how much he actually pays.

How to target your audience with StumbleUpon Paid Discovery

Paid Discovery is designed to target people who are looking to “discover” new places, people, or things. With this notion of people casually browsing for new things, paying to promote your content on StumbleUpon generates awareness, leads, and sales.

How long it takes to generate actual revenue depends on a multitude of factors, but the leading indicator for your sales cycle will be the complexity of a purchase decision and what your company does to demonstrate value.

Paid Search, on the other hand, is designed for many purposes, but mainly it is used for direct marketing for generating leads and driving revenue. The majority of search users are looking for specific information or products. They aren’t using a search engine to discover random things. These people are a little farther in their purchasing decision than a Paid Discovery target.

How StumbleUpon charges for Paid Discovery

When implementing a Paid Discovery campaign, you pay a flat fee per unique visitor. The fee you pay depends on what kind of exposure you want to receive. Here is a breakdown of the packages offered by StumbleUpon:

Standard Premium Custom
Priority serving in content streams Guaranteed top serving priority Build a custom program
Target by interest, location, demographics Standard targeting options Outside the box
Advanced targeting by device (web or mobile) Standard campaign targeting options RFP (Request for Proposal)
Advanced reporting and Integration with Google Analytics Advanced reporting and Integration with Google Analytics Advanced reporting and Integration with Google Analytics

Paid Search campaigns are different in that you bid for keywords based on an auction format. The price you pay for each keyword and in what position your ads show up are based on a number of factors, including

  • How many competitors are bidding for each keyword

  • What your competitors are actually bidding for each keyword

  • The relevancy of your ad to the keyword

  • The relevancy of your website to the keyword and ad

If you search for “Plumber in Boston”, the Paid Search ad would show up at the top or right of the search results page.