paidContent - Cond Nast's Latest E-Commerce Play

This story was written by David Kaplan.
In time for this month’s Fashion Week—and the usual companion traffic spike—Cond Nast’s is unveiling its latest e-commerce play: Shop The Look at Style.com, aka the web home of Vogue. Rachel Wintner, Style.com’s associate publisher, says the e-commerce service is aimed at proving its value to advertisers. She insisted that the decision to build e-commerce into the site wasn’t due to the dismal ad economy. Wintner: “Its also about being sympathetic and working with our advertising partners. Obviously, ROI and driving sales is paramount in everyones mind this year. Its not in reaction to the economy per se, however. But if we can drive advertisers sales, we know weve done our job beyond simply serving as a branding platform for them, which we also do quite well.”

First steps: Cond Nast’s move into e-commerce has been in the planning stages since at least February, when Drew Schutte moved from his post as publisher of the New Yorker to chief revenue officer of Cond Nast Digital. This summer, foodie site Epicurious was one of the first to get the e-commerce treatment, in a partnership with wine site Snooth.com. (Mediaweek has more on Snooth.)

Next steps: While the publisher’s Glamour.com already partners with ShopStyle, a retail aggregator that directs all purchases from that site, Cond Nast is considering a mix of in-house—as in the case of Style.com—and third-party e-commerce providers for its next round. The moves come as rivals like Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., which has linked Elle.com with discounted luxury shopping site Rue La La, also look to e-commerce as an additional revenue stream. And with media vet Susan Lyne as CEO of online luxury retailer Gilt Groupe, it’s a safe bet that there will eventually be an e-commerce arrangement with a publisher there too. While Cond Nast hasn’t announced its next steps, sources told paidContent that Brides.com is the most likely to get e-commerce next. The publisher has a lot of natural areas ripe for e-commerce, such as the shopping guide Lucky magazine, which doesn’t offer that function.

A perfect fit: As for Style.com’s use of e-commerce as way to boost its advertising value, the Shop The Look in the Trends and Shopping section will let advertisers own an integrated 300-by-600 spot on the page. Users, in turn, will be directed to the feature and its ads by the slideshows in the sites fashion show area. Every slideshow will feature a shopping bag icon and a message to Shop This Look. One of 36 of these “looks” will be assigned to each runway image.

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By David Kaplan