Instant gratification is a good thing for publishers

Making editorial content and advertisements shoppable creates new revenues and greater reader engagement.
You’ve heard of e-commerce – but have you heard of m-commerce? The new kid on the block, m-commerce is any kind of electronic commerce that takes place via a smartphone or a tablet, often associated with items featured in editorial copy; its parent, e-commerce, also encompasses desktop and other online purchasing options. 
If you’re leery of the notion that m-commerce deserves its own label, consider these figures: 100 per cent of year-over-year online sales growth in the UK was entirely mobile-driven for the second quarter of 2013, according to consultancy firm Capgemini and the UK’s e-retail association, Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG). Desktop revenue flat-lined for the first quarter ever.
Until recently, integrating e-commerce and m-commerce into a publication or website was verboten or at least certain to generate an editorial firestorm while also being labour and cost-intensive. 

For most editors, making editorial content shoppable was anathema. For decades, the editor’s opinion carried the weight of law and editors could single-handedly shut down commercial initiatives that imposed on their turf. 

Not anymore. Even editors recognise that times have changed and the media and media consumers don’t play by the same rules. Editors also recognise they must change with the times in order to stay in business. 

“There is still some concern left about making sure that the content maintains editorial integrity,” shopping technology company 72Lux CEO Heather Marie told MPA, the US Association of Magazine Media. “We’re challenged with integrating the technology in a way that shows that we’re not changing editorial strategy; we’re just launching new functionality.” 

“It’s not really a matter of consumers being concerned if a publisher is recommending a handbag for a particular reason,” Marie said. “If consumers like a product, we shouldn’t make it hard for them to buy it.” 

In addition to editorial firewalls, excessive cost and labour requirements prevented publishers from enabling shopping directly from their content — until the advent, that is, of e-commerce middlemen such as 72Lux and ShopAdvisor. 

These companies and others like them handle the various technological demands of making a magazine’s site or tablet edition shoppable while producing easy-to-use, elegant shopping tabs and checkout options. 

72Lux, the brainchild of CEO Marie, does about 30 per cent of its business with magazine media brands; its dedicated shopping platform is called Shoppable. “Publishers are increasingly enabling integrated shoppable content because  they’re seeing that it’s great for the consumer,” Marie said. 

Time Inc’s Essence, a monthly covering lifestyle, fashion, and beauty for black women, recently partnered with 72Lux to launch Beauty Matchmaker. Available on the Essence website — and fully functional on an iPad — it’s a quick and easy product-finder, akin to services offered by beauty companies such as CoverGirl and Garnier but with a key difference from the perspective of publishers.  

The difference is that 72Lux’s platform allows consumers to shop directly within the Essence website, across a variety of vendors, including and Sephora. This ease of use, coupled with the curation offered by the magazine, makes consumers far more likely to purchase, as opposed to merely browse — and the ability to complete a purchase without ever leaving the Essence site may mean a greater degree of interaction with the site, Marie said. 

Currently, the median age of the online Essence visitor is 41, two years younger than the magazine’s median age of 43. The high-spending, coveted 18-34 demographic comprises 37 per cent of online traffic. 

Condé Nast International’s Allure is also experimenting — quite successfully — with its Allure Beauty Product Finder app. Free and available across all major platforms, the app boasts 30,000 downloads to date. 

ShopAdvisor, which touts itself as a shopping experience company, is similar to 72Lux but with a distinguishing feature: the ability to delay gratification. 

Allure and ShopAdvisor recognised that not every reader is always in a position to purchase items immediately, but magazines and advertisers don’t want to lose them as customers. Enter the “watch list.” 

The ShopAdvisor technology enables readers to add items to their “watch list” which will trigger email alerts when an item’s price drops or an out-of-stock item becomes available. The list is also there for when the consumer has the resources to make the purchase. The consumer can access his or her list via a mobile device, enabling them to call it up when they are shopping in a store. 

According to ShopAdvisor, more than 90 per cent of users respond to these post-discovery notifications, establishing significant ongoing engagement. 

In an interview with Mobile Marketer, ShopAdvisor CEO Scott Cooper explained the company’s natural shopping model. “Today’s consumer goes on a discovery journey when shopping. They do not distinguish between editorial and advertising, both forms of content are equally valuable when learning about and researching their consideration set of products. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to shop-enable both.”

Time Inc’s All You is working with ShopAdvisor — specifically to target its bargain-hunting audience. A joint survey conducted by All You and the Insight Strategy Group discovered that many women spend time researching product deals on smartphones and tablets. 

“Ninety percent of women in the survey think of themselves as smart bargain shoppers,” deputy editor George Kimmerling told Folio. At present, the focus is entirely on creating that all-important engagement. According to Kimmerling, the magazine isn’t closing off advertising opportunities, but is currently more focused on metrics and how readers interact with the magazine’s new shopability. 

Condé Nast’s Allure also implemented the ShopAdvisor platform last year, starting with the September issue. An unobtrusive yet easy-to-spot “Shop” or “Buy it now” button appeared at the end of a review or at the top of shoppable ads. The issue included 64 shoppable pages (60 editorial pages and four advertisements) featuring brands such as CoverGirl, Bare Minerals, Macy’s, Sephora, and Shiseido.  

“While we are still early in our commercial rollout, we have seen some surprising trends,” Cooper continued. “For example, we’re seeing consistently that when a publisher makes editorial and advertising shoppable, their readers are spending more time engaging with those ads — although both have stronger engagement rates and time spent than non-shoppable content… It demonstrates the importance of lighting up the brand across the entire publication and reinforces the idea that the consumer is going on a discovery journey where the type of content, or medium for that matter, is irrelevant at that stage of their consideration process.”  

And lest anyone thinks e- and m-commerce are only for magazines looking to make up for revenue losses, Time Inc’s Sports Illustrated Golf Group in January 2014 began offering buying opportunities to its readers. The Golf Group’s premier title, Golf Magazine, subsequently achieved a 12 per cent yearover- year gain in ad pages, according to MPA.

Source: FIPP Innovations in Magazine Media 2014 World ReportOrder your copy of Innovations 2014 now.

FIPP Innovation Forum

Mobile, ecommerce and mcommerce will feature at FIPP’s Innovation Forum taking place in less than 2 weeks, on 26-27 June in London. 

With speakers from Buzzfeed, QuartzElle, Hubert Burda Media, and Time Out (that are just some of them!), there will be sessions dedicated to tablets, phablets and smartphones, as well as sessions on video, including top campaigns, native advertising and e-newsletters, an in particular optimising these for mobile. 

Come along to see top innovations and strategies, engage, discuss and debate current and future developments, and come away with practical take-outs to help develop your business and brand strategies, and help you execute on promises. 

Useful links 

·         Website

·         Programme

·         Speakers

·         Register

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