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Tumblr wants its best artists to create ads people actually like

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Tumblr's beautiful, GIF-filled feed is what keeps bringing visitors back, and it wants to make sure the feed stays that way even as brands begin to fill it with ads. To that end, it's announcing the formal launch of what it's calling the Creatrs Network, a curated group of artists who excel on Tumblr and can help brands make ads that people actually like. Tumblr says that it's been running tests with this network for the past year and has already used it to run successful campaigns with Axe, Gap, and Olay, among others.

If ads look good, people may even share them

Rather than running ads that look like they could be plastered up on a billboard, Tumblr is hoping that brands will tap its network to find someone who actually knows what works on Tumblr. That's probably going to be GIFs, but it's also going to be GIFs that are composed in a way that they feel like something you'd want to share. Tumblr really wants the ads to fit in as though they were any of piece of art — it even says that artists will receive credit and links back to their page (in addition to actual payment for their work).

Tumblr is working with hundreds of artists as part of the Network. It also has a far smaller group, simply called Creatrs, who work on Tumblr-specific events like GIFing major events. So far there's no way for artists to apply to be part of either network — right now, Tumblr is just finding them — but that may change as it grows more mature. Even though the network is only being made public today, Tumblr says that it's already paid out around $250,000 to its Creatrs.

This may just be the start of Tumblr's work with artists on its platform. David Hayes, Tubmlr's head of creative strategy, suggested that over the next year we'll see more products roll out that are meant to give creators more power. In particular, he spoke to the number of Tumblr blogs that have turned into books, suggesting that Tumblr may be able to do more to enable that transition. Ads may be one of the less-exciting places to start, but it's also one of the most important for Tumblr. That's how it makes money, but with ugly, intrusive ads, it would end up driving users away. Creatrs Network may be the solution to stopping that — and to making sure its users never even notice.


A GIF made for AT&T by Matthew Williamson