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RelationShops: More magazines look to ecommerce partnerships with advertisers to survive

This post is the first part of a two-part essay discussing the ecommerce initiatives of major magazines. 

Getting your hands on the clothing, shoes, jewelry, furniture, and more featured in the pages of many magazines is just a click away these days—and just in time for the holiday shopping season.

In an age where print publications struggle to stay alive in a world of new technology, a tough economy, and plunging advertising revenue, many consumer magazines—such as Lucky, Elle, Vogue, GQ, Real Simple, Esquire and others—have found a creative way to increase revenue through ecommerce sites, partnering with advertisers to sell readers the items seen on the pages of the magazines online or through mobile applications.

Lucky is one of the latest magazines to launch an ecommerce site. The magazine about shopping introduced MyLucky in August. It’s a shopping section of its website done in partnership with several advertisers including Sephora, Macy’s, Dior, Lancome, and others, according to a press release. The MyLucky site features clothing, jewelry, and accessories for sale as an individual item or as part of an editorial lineup. Customers can also browse advertiser’s collections as part of the site’s “shop” section, or view picks made by Lucky staff.

“We are thrilled to have pioneered a platform that directly connects those conversations to a broad network of retail and brand partners creating a shopping experience abundant in choice led by editorial guidance,” said Brandon Holley, editor in chief of Lucky, in the release.

It’s clear, however, that the publication needed to do something to help its bottom line. The Condé Nast publication saw its revenue from print advertising pages drop by 15 percent in the second quarter of the year to $29 million compared with $34 million the year before, according to an August New York Times article. The magazine’s circulation had also dropped from 1.16 million to 1.12 million over the past four years, the article said.

“There’s a huge opportunity for revenue and traffic growth,” Holley said of the partnership. The magazine expects to get about 3 to 15 percent of every sale under the arrangement. Even so, Holley said Lucky will maintain its editorial integrity through the partnership.

Lucky is not the first magazine to do something like this. Sid Holt, chief executive of the American Society of Magazine Editors, said in an email interview that magazines have operated similar retail businesses for a long time. “Think, for example, of Vogue Patterns, which was originally owned by the same company that published Vogue, or Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, which licenses the name from Meredith Corp.,” he said. “A relatively limited number of companies are now engaged in ecommerce.”

Just this year, Real Simple magazine released a mobile gift guide app for shopping and Elle magazine launched a trend guide on Facebook that consumers could buy from, according to an April Mashable article. Last September, Vogue partnered with retailer Moda Operandi during New York Fashion Week to allow consumers to pre-order fashion looks from the runway, the article said.  In July, GQ formed a new partnership with Nordstrom to sell clothing selected by GQ editors on NordstromMen.com, according to the New York Times.

Esquire partnered with J.C. Penney in November 2011 to offer a website called CLADmen.com that sold items appearing in the magazine. The site lasted a couple of months before it was shut down, but not at the behest of the magazine, said a spokesman for Esquire in an email. The move came as a new CEO at J.C. Penney decided to move the retailer in a new direction, he explained. But even so, Esquire is not finished with the ecommerce idea. The publication is looking into other similar ecommerce opportunities, a spokesman says, so there must be something to this creative revenue solution.

Appazoogle guest blogger Rivkela Brodsky is a first year master’s student in publishing and writing at Emerson College. She is a Southwest-born writer who recently left the Duke City (Albuquerque, New Mexico) after five years working for the Albuquerque Journal, the state’s largest daily newspaper, in search of adventure and new writing opportunities in Boston. 

Come back to Appazoogle tomorrow for Rivkela’s analysis of how the mix of ads and articles impacts the magazine publishing landscape.

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This entry was posted on November 25, 2012 by in Business, Industry Research and tagged , , .

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