New tags can only be created on relevant questions by users with sufficient reputation. However, can sponsored tags be created proactively without an existing question by an interested sponsor?

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    If that would be possible and the system works as I'm told such tag would only live till 03:00 UTC when tags without questions are removed. I don't think I want to sponsor that ... but I assume you have a case where you believe this is different? – rene Jan 25 '17 at 10:42
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    I've encountered a corporate entity that wants to seed tags for some new products, and they did so with really poor questions which unfortunately were untenable. It's entirely possible for the sponsored tag system to skirt the 3am rule, if so implemented. I just have no idea whether that is the case or not. Sounds reasonable that it's not. – deceze Jan 25 '17 at 12:02

As others pointed out, tags don't exist (for long) without questions. But a company representative can create a sponsored tag along with a question. After all, anyone who can create a tag can also post a question with a tag. A recent example is actions-on-google which was created by a Google employee who posted a self-answered question about the product.

If I remember correctly, it also happened that an SE employee created a sponsored tag by adding it to some existing questions about the product; presumably this was at the request of a company that lacked a representative with enough reputation. (I think this is what happened with [sonos] tag on SO, which was created by hairboat; the tag is not sponsored now but that may be because the sponsorship expired.)

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    I've encountered another corporate entity that tried the actions-on-google thing but failed miserably with the content of their "question". I wanted to check whether sponsored tags were an alternative to them or not. – deceze Jan 25 '17 at 12:13
  • Only an SO rep could say for sure, but I think if there are no existing questions to which their tag could be added, and they can't think of any good questions to ask with that tag... sponsoring it would not be a good use of their money, regardless of whether the tag would remain in the system. – user315433 Jan 25 '17 at 12:35
  • I certainly agree with that; they shouldn't be astroturfing where there might never be a question in the first place. – deceze Jan 25 '17 at 12:44

I doubt this is true, primarily because what rene already commented:

If that would be possible and the system works as I'm told such tag would only live till 03:00 UTC when tags without questions are removed.

That is what we know about how the system works. Going back: I doubt you will ever need having a tag first and then the question. From what I have experienced, there are always first questions and when a company sees future in sponsoring the tag, it will get sponsored. I don't think sponsors will have any interest in starting on SO without a minimal basis.

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