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Last May, the image-heavy, meme-tastic social network entered the fraught world of social media advertising--but demanded that brands act like its users. That meant creating visual, beautiful, fun, shareable content. The response was impressive:

It drew advertisers known for clever campaigns (including others featured in this issue, such as Coca-Cola, GE, Microsoft, and Nike) and ones willing to try their hand at it (including IBM, J.Crew, and Whole Foods). By year's end, Tumblr had vaulted into the top 10 most-visited websites in America, with more than 80 million blogs that net more than 700 million visits and almost 18 billion page views. Here are some of users' favorite "ads."

The fashion icon's stunning photography (and models) are inherently popular.

Adidas channels soccer's visual appeal on Tumblr with videos, sports photography, and, of course, GIFs.

Disney enlisted photographers to take photos around Disney's U.S. parks expressly for Tumblr, giving different perspectives on the parks than boring press shots.

A loose collection of GIFs and "life is good" sentiments charm the soft drink's fans.

[Illustration By Helen Friel]