From the MPA: The Association of Magazine Media, published 5/13/13, by firstname.lastname@example.org
Readers look to magazines to be informed, inspired, for entertainment, and—let’s be honest—to find stuff to buy. Enter 72Lux, whose tagline is “Transforming Publishers into Retailers.” 72Lux‘s technology, Shoppable, allows digital publishers to sell products directly from within their editorial. Moreover, 72Lux has established relationships with over a hundred retailers in the apparel, beauty and consumer packaged goods industries, and has recently started moving into home, electronics and books. For any new publisher that starts working with the company, 72Lux handles all of the relationships and manages the technical integration with the retailers.
Heather Marie, co-founder and CEO of 72Lux, was on the founding team of a digital media company called Affinity Labs directly before founding 72Lux almost three years ago. “Our biggest challenge is handling the demand. As soon as we brought our technology to market and everyone saw what it could actually do, we’ve had so much interest.” Marie, who runs a team of 10 people, estimates that 30% of their business is working with Magazine Media brands. “Publishers are increasingly enabling integrated, shoppable content because they’re seeing that it’s great for the consumer. Historically, publishers have been driving so much demand for products and not getting the credit for it, so [our technology] is something that is very obvious and easy for publishers to leverage as they begin launching their commerce initiatives.”
Several studies have shown that consumers want to buy the products that they’re reading about in magazines, but because products are often difficult to track down and buy, the demand is often left unsatisfied. It’s frustrating to the user and there is a lot of value in that placement to the advertiser and the publisher. “There is still some concern left about making sure that the content maintains editorial integrity,” said Marie. “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.”
Years ago, the strict separation between church and state made the idea of making content shoppable nearly impossible, acknowledged Marie. As a result, initial strategies revolved around setting up dedicated online stores on magazine websites. But the evolution of digital media makes those sentiments more fluid. “It’s not really a matter of consumers being concerned if a publisher is recommending a handbag for a particular reason. If consumers like a product, we shouldn’t make it hard for them to buy it.”
This year 72Lux added Teen Vogue (who plans to unveil their e-commerce addition in July) and Essence to their growing roster of publishers. Dawnie Walton, Deputy Managing Editor at Essence, oversees the editorial content strategy for digital at the magazine and helped spearhead the partnership with 72Lux. Still in its infancy, Beauty Matchmaker, a product finder customized for the beauty needs of Black women, launched a few weeks ago on Essence.com with initial promotion mainly via their online channels, with upcoming print promotion slated for their June issue. “Our challenge was a good one,” says Walton. “It was very early on, in trying to conceive of everything that the reader would want. We wanted to make sure that when most of our readers encountered [Beauty Matchmaker] they could find something that works for them. This tool is going to continue to grow, we’re going to continue to add recommendations and try to update it seasonally, so that is something that is always going to be a challenge that we’re faced with: making it as robust as possible.”
The technology is not restrictive, giving publishers the ability to incorporate it into their websites as well as within their tablet editions. “Essentially,” said Marie, “99% of publishers out there are looking to add e-commerce, the majority of them by the end of this year. It’s a really big goal.”