Wednesday, June 12

The Latest Trend for Fashion Mag’s September Issue? Advertising that Looks Just Like Content

Native advertising and print advertising have collided thanks to a quiz from People’s StyleWatch. By using the quiz to generate traffic online, advertisers were able to receive more exposure — and StyleWatch was able to fund its biggest September issue yet.The Stylewatch quiz was similar to a sponsored quiz, using just eight questions to match users to their “celebrity style twin.” Unlike a Buzzfeed quiz, however, StyleWatch readers could click on embedded links to purchase the 600 clothing items, accessories and beauty products featured in the quiz.

Of the fashion items shown in the quiz, around 25% of them made it into the September issue. The issue will contain 203 pages of advertising, a 6.6% increase from last year, according to Media Industry Newsletter’s editor-in-chief Steve Cohn.

Not only did the amount spent by advertisers affect the number of ad pages in the magazine, but it also allowed them to have more items placed into the quiz’s content.

But is this too confusing for readers, who might not be able to tell the magazine’s written content from its advertising?

“In print, they were always called ‘advertorials’ and they still exist today,” comments Scott Trueblood, President of BrandVision Marketing. “The online version, ‘native advertising’ is effective because people engage content and often want to ignore ads. The advertisers get their impressions in a content-oriented forum. The down side? It can create that ‘wait a minute…this is a damn ad’ reaction. Recently, I was reading a magazine article on telecommunications and internet speed, when halfway through I realized it was a pitch from a business telecom provider. That reaction may not sit well with all consumers.”Stephanie Sladkus, published of Time Inc.-owned People Stylewatch, said no. “Advertisers continue to want to be seamlessly integrated into editorial and this does this for them,” she said, following it up by explaining that “Readers today better understand the integration of advertising and editorial.”

The quiz was created by ShopAdvisor, with input from StyleWatch editors. The magazine plans to have another quiz out by December and will continue developing quizzes like this one each month starting in 2015.

By generating buzz for the quiz, through ads on the top of New York taxis and with a billboard in Times Square, StyleWatch advertises its magazine, too. And with online quizzes and similar sponsored content on websites, it’s a method that more advertisers are looking to.

Time Inc. has been making more of an effort to develop native ads. Last month, they announced a new team focused on native advertising.

Compared to the second quarter of 2013, their second-quarter ad revenue has gone up 3 percent. Digital ad sales are up for the company by 12 percent.

StyleWatch doesn’t have its own website yet, but its channel on attracted 22 million unique visitors in June.

The online platform and the magazine are especially targeting millenial consumers, according to Sladkus. The magazine rivaled shopping magazine Lucky, a Conde Nast publication that has seen its circulation dwindle since the recession hit.

But even StyleWatch’s print pages are down 12 percent, said Cohn. Across the entire magazine industry, print pages have decreased by 6% over the past year.

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