Is Rumble worth the trouble for any advertisers?
As the home of loud voices shunned by the ‘mainstream’, Rumble will not be loved by all marketers and media buyers. But ignoring all of its audiences completely would be self-defeating, writes Iconic founder James Kirkham.
Streaming platform Rumble has grown rapidly in awareness – and users – with an estimated average of 44 million MAU in Q2 of 2023. A new media ecosystem is out there, already established and operating at full tilt. And whether we like it or not, it is an influential platform if not for its user base then for its impact on the broader discourse. It’s even sponsoring the entire Republican Primary debate.
Rumble has found audiences often via exclusive arrangements with popular content creators who have a following beyond conservatives and Trump supporters, such as the journalist Glenn Greenwald. He was vocal about his beliefs that technology behemoths and the mainstream media have too much power to quash speech. So, he needed a home to allow such a dissenting voice. Another more predictable example was Dan Bongino. According to the New York Times, the pro-Trump host and former Secret Service agent who replaced Rush Limbaugh in some US radio markets streamed his daily show on Rumble to 2.2 million subscribers.
Content on Rumble is created by various commentators, covering various topics. Some analyze day trading and the stock market, while others focus on sports like UFC, which has its own channel. It is even showcasing its controversial, comedic spin-off IP ‘Power Slap’, with around 40,000-50,000 eyeballs per episode. Further niche activities like Street League Skateboarding and Nitro Cross are distinct to the platform and certainly are not covered in mainstream media. Science is another well-followed topic with popular shows, including the Darkhorse podcast with biology professor Brett Weinstein, who streams live to an engaged audience. There’s also a strong presence in music broadcasting, from D’n’B and old-school jungle to synth-wave and chill creators playing their sets.
There’s more to it than the rage-baiters that it’s become known for. Learning from the now-extinct social media network Parler, which was effectively shut down once Amazon said it would no longer host the site after the January 6 attacks last year. Life finds a way. Rumble offers an assurance that it can’t be shut down by running its own cloud service and infrastructure. It’s also getting cash inputs from advertisers with tier 1 sponsors like Mastercard top and tailing financial shows through lesser-known miracle cure dental hygiene products.
Groups, like Check My Ads, argue that Rumble’s uncompromising interpretation of free speech makes it incompatible with the brand safety that many CMOs say they cherish.
But perhaps these open channels are behind us anyway. Community spaces are also subject to digital upheaval. Fandom was adopted by entertainment as far back as early book and pamphlet publishing. The old ways meant buying merchandise, gathering together around the radio, TV or, trading a book and perhaps going to a gig. As the Web 2.0 era took off, you could get truly up close and personal, commenting on actual posts from celebrities, talent and pop stars. But algorithm fatigue meant we were bored of brands and talent broadcasting to millions in a stagnant, impersonal manner. There was too much unavoidable noise when all you wanted was closeness and cut-through.
Recently, this was answered through messaging and community platforms like Telegram and Discord. These are enabling that close interaction right now. In messaging environments like this, everyone has a mic. WhatsApp now allows groups of up to 256 people, allowing you to have as many friends as you might likely ever want in tight ‘common room’ conversations where you will not risk being burnt by anonymous users, abused by trolls or have to witness social toxicity. Telegram takes this even further, with channels enabling up to 200,000 members to gather and be a part of truly exciting communities devoted to a common cause or to read the latest news.
Brands need to be aware of everything under the bonnet before writing off the whole vehicle when it comes to working with new and growing sites like Rumble. They need to consider whether they agree if platforms and broadcasters hold a wide range of views, commentators and personalities. Brands should consider where they want their product to sit, and in what kind and type of conversation and dialogue. They need to have a clearly defined distribution and editorial policy that helps them understand speedily what they’re comfortable sitting alongside - culturally, politically and with regard to identity.
Likewise, smart brands should be pushing for a more sophisticated media targeting strategy to ensure that understanding in-house and with their assigned agencies is clear when it comes to understanding where their content and activity may be placed. It’s no longer just a chase of choosing between TV, radio or online; the nuances of culture and differences in activity and expectation vary widely between and within platforms and should be a well-researched part of any strategy.
Rumble might well be entirely appropriate for combat sports accessories and apparel manufacturers to advertise against shows on their UFC channel. These brands should also be able to feel they can advertise without feeling tarred by hate speech and bile posted by host personalities that some may feel should be banned or canceled.
Agencies should be on the front foot here, too, by deepening their expertise on which new media outlets are best suited to their clients. This should be a watershed moment to rid ourselves of lazy planning and buying. Audiences can be found everywhere, from Discord communities to online video platforms, from short-form quick-hit content to long-form meandering conversational pieces.
Serving advertising ripe for discussion and conversation on Rumble might be a genuine answer for some if they can align with the right people at the right times. Just know it may well host a great deal on content that conflicts with your business’s ideals. And people will notice. For others, it might be curating micro-community conversations on Telegram, likewise seeding discussion threads on Discord. All are spaces where brands can elicit truly authentic conversation. But definitely do your research and know what you are getting into.