publishers of major U.S. fashion magazines are ramping up their digital and mobile offerings to meet advertisers’ increasing demands to reach consumers on those platforms.
InStyle’s parent company Time Inc. acquired Stylefeeder, a “personal shopping engine” that makes purchase recommendations based on buyers’ previous acquisitions, in January.
Stylefeeder’s technology will be used to power InStyle Boutique, a Flash-based virtual department store (see above) that will run for five weeks alongside the launch of the magazine’s September issue in mid-August.
Each individual “store” will feature a video and up to 20 hand-picked items from the advertiser that visitors can click to purchase.
Over at Conde Nast, W magazine has developed a series of bold, experimental offerings for advertisers this fall. It will launch three interactive, mobile-based promotions — two tied to New York Fashion Week and a third that will roll out in October.
The first of these is a highly unusual campaign that will allow advertisers to participate in a bit of guerilla marketing during Fashion Week via what VP and Publisher Nina Lawrence describes as, “an interactive fashion story that will come to life in a 270-degree mobile showcase.” The showcase involves a glass-paneled trailer filled with live models wearing advertisers’ merchandise, which will make stops at prominent New York locations to draw crowds.
The trailer will also feature Microsoft Tags, Microsoft’s version of the QR code. Passerby can use Microsoft’s Tag Reader to scan the codes to learn more about the campaign and the advertisers involved.
Marie Claire will begin to utilize image recognition technology this fall, which will enable readers to shop the pages of the magazine and access other bonus content via their mobile phones.
The publication is also launching its first iPhone app
Vogue, which holds the number two spot in ad page sales in its category, appears to be similarly cautious. The title promises to expand its presence on Facebook and Twitter
come this fall (the magazine sent its first tweet on July 9), although it has not yet detailed its plans. For now, Vogue will continue to offer digital advertising opportunities through its e-mail marketing program and its shopping-based iPhone app, Vogue Stylist [iTunes link], which was launched in February.
Fashion magazines are clearly trying to corner their own share of the ever-expanding online and mobile advertising markets. But of all of the publishing executives I spoke with, only two — Susan Plagemann of Vogue and Ted Nadeau of Elle Digital — noted an increased demand for social media-based solutions from advertisers, even though more and more marketers are allocating funds to social platforms.
That’s perhaps not surprising, given the number of luxury brands that advertise in these magazines and their general reluctance to engage with social media.
“Chanel is a very creative-driven, luxury-driven brand. And right now they would not go with anything that doesn’t showcase the brand and make it beautiful,” he said. “They don’t want any interaction with their brand consumers. Chanel belongs to Chanel. It doesn’t belong to anyone else but Chanel.”
Given the company’s attitude, it’s no wonder that Chanel and other luxury brands aren’t willing to let publishers run with their brands on social media platforms. Web and mobile-based solutions offer much more control, both in creative production and distribution.