It’s been said by some that I have ink in my blood having started my career as a newspaper reporter well before the digital dawn. With that in mind, it makes me sentimental and sad to see print publishers fall behind the digital curve and fumble attempts to be digitally relevant, especially with the explosive interest and opportunity in digital commerce. While some publishers believe native advertising might be a way to renew sagging revenue, adding advertorials (which is what this trend has been called for decades) will never offer the upside of digital commerce in its various forms.
I call to the stand Net-A-Porter, a media company who has shattered the somewhat imaginary line between content and commerce. Founded in 2000, and now part of a Swiss-based mega fashion holding company, Net-A-Porter has become the digital bible for fashionstas who want the latest trends to jump off the screen and delivered to their door. The formula is simple: easy navigation, one-click secure purchases and visually compelling images/descriptions that allow simple, personalized comparison shopping. And, not being one to be in the market for women’s clothing, the customer service features appear to be in the rarefied air breathed by Amazon and the few others in that particular orbit.
Defying the trend that hints at the slow death of print publications, Net-A-Porter is launching a print magazine, “Porter,” featuring Gisele Bundchen on the cover. The magazine will attempt to rival such fashion mag stalwarts as Vogue, Marie Claire and Glamour but with the competitive edge of using the publication as a driver for digital commerce. While, the specific details on how Net-A Porter founder Natalie Massenet and her team hope to pull this off are better served in a future research report, it’s worth pointing out a few key take-aways. These are points that are worthy of consideration by digital marketers and social media platforms such as Pinterest and Twitter in search of ways to add digital commerce to their playbooks.
• Most importantly, Net-A-Porter will offer print customers tools such as the ability scan print ads to offer the same ability to efficiently go from content to commerce
• The Net-A-Porter team knows its customers. Research showed that its average website customer purchased four to five print fashion magazines each month.
• For those who still prefer digital over print, the publishers will offer a digital download of its new publication with all the click-to-buy features built in.
• Prior to launching in print, the publisher did a test run of 10,000 copies to determine the feasibility of a full scale launch.
• Given Net-A-Porter wants to cultivate a new advertising revenue stream rather that cannibalize its digital inventory, the publisher has created a print/digital combo ad buy that offers a bundled discount.
Oh, there’s plenty more to share, so that’s just a teaser. My hope is print publishers are listening and take action before the ink in my blood turns toxic.