Tumblr Launches An In-House Ad Agency That Pairs Creators With Big Brands

Tumblr looks to transform its users into a massive, crowd-sourced ad agency, with the new Creatrs Network.

Tumblr Launches An In-House Ad Agency That Pairs Creators With Big Brands
[Images: courtesy of Tumblr]

Today, Tumblr is lifting the curtains off a new in-house creative lab called the Creatrs Network that will take advantage of the blogging site’s 420 million monthly unique visitors.


Head of creative strategy David Hayes describes it as Tumblr’s first attempt to “create a formal structure” to pair the platform’s massive audience of artists, photographers, and other creatives with brands for advertising campaigns. So, if a brand like Olea or AT&T is looking for fresh talent that no one’s tapped yet, well, they’ve found their place. Creatrs Network launches today.

“We think we have the largest creative class on the Internet,” says Hayes. It’s a “new resource to come from our community.”

Here’s how it works: A big brand like Axe approaches Tumblr and says it would like to buy a sponsored ad. Tumblr will then select from an initial pool of 300 people within its Creatrs Network to find that brand whatever kind of creative work they might be looking for: A GIF maker, maybe a high-fashion photographer, maybe a videographer. That content can then live on Tumblr as a sponsored post, as well as on parent company Yahoo’s various publishing properties.

“We pay all of our artists,” says Hayes. “We’ve paid over a quarter of a million dollars in the half-year of tests.” Among those was artist Cindy Suen, who does colorful and intricate animated illustrations of factories, cities, and hamburgers. Tumblr served as the middle man, and last year paired her with a campaign for the teen-horror Ouija movie to develop stuff like this.

Right now, there is no way for artists to join the Creatrs Network, but Tumblr says that an application feature is forthcoming. The idea is that this helps little-known artists get paid for their work (“market rates,” says Hayes) and navigate the treacherous, opaque world of advertising. For Tumblr, it means less overhead than a traditional advertising agency that draws on an enormous crowd-sourced (and previously untapped) network.

“The creative class is the next generation that’s going to change the world,” says Hayes, “and we think we have the largest of any platform.”

About the author

Chris is a staff writer at Fast Company, where he covers business and tech. He has also written for The Week, TIME, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, and more.