Israeli web-design firm has a little-known side business, and it’s heavily investing in it to take on influencer marketing

Israeli web-design firm has a little-known side business, and it’s heavily investing in it to take on influencer marketing not only helps small businesses build their websites, but it also helps big brands, such as Disney, Fiat, Ripley’s, and Universal, connect with and commission art from their superfans.

The Israeli website design firm is doubling down on DeviantArt, an online community for artists and designers that it acquired two years ago for $36 million to enter the booming influencer marketing business.

The DeviantArt website, which had resembled Reddit, is getting a sleek redesign with an interactive video game-like interface. The goal is to make it easier for brands to find authentic fans and for the platform’s 47 million members to promote and sell their work.

“The DeviantArt brand is very strong in the art community, and Wix wants to continue to build on that strength,” Liat Karpel Gurwicz, DeviantArt’s head of marketing, told Business Insider. “Both companies have common visions of helping people bring their content online and growing their businesses and brands.”

The platform receives tens of thousands of daily submissions and claims to be the largest online art gallery for creatives with a repository of more than 370 million pieces of art. Its leaders believe it has an edge because it’s been around since before the rise of social media.

“Our community developed along with the internet, long before influencer marketing took off,” said Justin Maller, DeviantArt’s chief creative officer.

Brands including Blizzard Entertainment, Disney, Fiat, Ripley’s and Universal have used the DeviantArt community. Blizzard commissioned a group of artists on the platform to create 21 new characters for its game “Overwatch.” The campaign got nearly 2 million views with nearly 90,000 fans engaging with the new characters.

Ripley’s worked with DeviantArt to put first art book, “Odd Is Art,” directly in front of artists and creators. The brand encouraged the DeviantArt community to create their own piece of odd art using unconventional mediums and techniques, from portraits made of toothpaste to abstract salt block sculptures crafted by the licks of cows. The campaign got 68 million impressions.

“We could have simply targeted these consumers and fans on social and more traditional marketing avenues directly (and we did that as well), but DeviantArt provided a very genuine audience,” said Sabrina Sieck, creative content manager at Ripley’s. “A niche product promoted to a niche audience really worked for us.”

The platform so far monetized by through brand partnerships like the ones above and via programmatic buying. Going forward, it will focus exclusively on brand partnerships. It also offers a subscription where members can pay $15 for three months or $50 for a year to sell their art to brands, with DeviantArt taking a small cut from each sale.

Wix has continued to invest in DeviantArt, as evidenced by its team growing from about 20 employee to nearly 100 in two years. The two platforms will likely get more integrated at some point, giving Wix’s users access to the work of the DeviantArt community.

Wix posted a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast a 25% rise in revenue in 2019 in its most recent earnings.

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