If you don’t know what StumbleUpon is, then you’re missing out on something awesome. StumbleUpon is a website discovery engine. You tell it what you’re interests are and it shows you sites you should like. You then “stumble” through a collection of websites by clicking a “stumble” button, over and over, viewing different websites – often for hours. Add all the standard voting and sharing options you would expect and you have StumbleUpon. A social, viral, website discovery engine. Getting a website to be popular in StumbleUpon has been compared to the Digg effect. If you run websites, you absolutely want to be stumbled.

What is StumbleUpon Advertising (Paid Discovery)?

Just like getting to the top of Digg, it’s not easy to get a high volume of stumbles. If you’re launching a new website, or simply need to boost traffic to an existing website, StumbleUpon offers a creative form of advertising called Paid Discovery. Paid Discovery simply means that StumbleUpon shows “sponsored” sites in some of the stumble slots, based on user’s “interests.” StumbleUpon sets aside 5% of stumbles to use for Paid Discovery.

When you set up a Paid Discovery campaign you choose (optionally) the interests and demographics you want to target for your stumbles. As your campaign runs, StumbleUpon users will be presented with your full website as they stumble. Most users will not notice that your website is a sponsored site even though StumbleUpon does mark each paid stumble as “sponsored.” If you have a website that “people just have to see” then StumbleUpon Paid Discovery is for you. Especially if you are launching a new concept that users aren’t yet Googling for.

My Experience with StumbleUpon Paid Discovery

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery is a great way to try to get your website to go viral. This is the exciting part about Paid Discovery. If users, while viewing your paid stumble, “like” your site, you can earn free stumbles. If your website is popular enough you can even earn thousands of free visitors in one day. In a recent campaign Timeline Collage received 1,600+ free stumbles in a day while only paying for two hundred. Enough of the paid users “liked” Timeline Collage that we got over a thousand free views of our website. This happened twice over a 5-day test period. I have not been able to find an explanation on StumbleUpon of exactly what it takes to get free stumbles. When I contacted the Paid Discovery twitter account they replied to my query with a generic link that doesn’t go into much detail about the formula for getting free stumbles. In my experience the social interactions on StumbleUpon, in relation to your site, can result in large amounts of free stumbles when using Paid Discovery. As expected, the more viral your concept is the more likely it is to receive free traffic on StumbleUpon. Conversely, the less viral your concept the “more” you’re going to pay to get traffic from StumbleUpon.


There are a few options and features within Paid Discovery that I’m not covering here, such as the option to choose a “serving priority” that can affect your stumble price from $0.05 per stumble up to $0.25 per stumble. If you’re even slightly interested in Paid Discovery I suggest you sign up for an account and start a campaign to see what your options are. I expect over time StumbleUpon will be tweaking Paid Discovery to make it even more useful to those of use who are always launching websites.