Giphy is getting into the sticker business with 12 artist-created iMessage sticker packs

Remember when Emojis were niche? Now, everyone and their mom (literally) uses them. Messaging stickers seem to be in the middle of a similar transition, slowing but surely becoming more regularly used in our messaging conversations having initially made it big in Asia.

And GIPHY, the ‘Google of GIFs’ which raised over $120 million last year alone, of course thinks these stickers should be animated. So today the company is announcing that it wants to make it easier for artists to create animated sticker apps for the iMessage App Store.

It is starting by launching 12 stickers apps, each featuring animated sticker designs from a different artist. Each app will cost 99 cents, with all proceeds going to the artist. Unlike regular GIFs, these stickers can be dragged anywhere on your message thread.

skeletons-00If you’re wondering just how lucrative that could be, cast an eye at messaging app Line, which raised over $1 billion last year via a dual U.S.-Japan IPO. The firm brought in $270 million in revenue from sticker sales in 2015. Apple hasn’t given out revenue figures for its iMessage App Store since its September launch — you can be sure Line is out-selling it on stickers — but the comparison gives an indication of where things could be moving to in North America.

But there’s a longer term vision for GIPHY here beyond sticker revenue.

As part of this project it has started developing software that will eventually make it easier for non-technical artists to get their content on marketplaces like the iMessage App Store. And while it is only launching 12 today, Ari Spool, Community Curator at GIPHY, explained that the company is interested in continuing to build on the idea of making it easier for artists to get their work to the masses.

This is important for artists — if platforms like the iMessage App Store are going to be where users are getting their content from, non-technical artists are going to need help getting their work there. And by acting as a middleman, GIPHY can genuinely help these artists while at the same time making sure their own GIF database contains the same great work that the iMessage App Store is getting.

GIPHY also benefits from more people sending animated stickers in general, because it validates their thesis that visual content like GIFs and animated stickers are the future of messaging.

The program is being run through GIPHY Arts, which is the art and community department responsible for maintaining the GIPHY artist directory. This is essentially a part of the site that showcases original GIFs created by artists around the world, and gives artists commissions for the work they upload. Artists are invited to join based on the quality of their content and creativity.

You can check out all 12 sticker packs here on the iMessage App Store.