Hearst's magazines are getting on-track digitally, extending the brands of two of its popular automotive titles — Road & Track and Car and Driver — with group-buying digital deals. Exclusive invites will be offered later this summer, targeting the male-dominated audiences of both magazine brands.
“It’s a brand-new way to connect some of our advertisers with our most trusted asset — our users,” commented Rob Houghlin, publisher and chief revenue officer for the magazines, to AllThingsD.
Having acquired the two titles from France's Lagardère in January, the social commerce launch for the Hearst Digital Media group follows five years of weighing the right fit in a social commerce play, he added.
“Advertisers are looking for new ways to talk to current and potential customers. They want don’t want to move distressed products, but they want to offer special products to consumers who want it. It’s a platform of credibility first and value second.”
Hearst will use a Group Commerce-owned media platform, “built for big media publishers,” and founded by former Google and DoubleClick executives David Rosenblatt, Jonty Kelt and Andrew Glenn.
Hearst joins Group Commerce’s other major publishing partners (it also works with merchants) including Daily Candy, Thrillist and the New York Times, and the company has raised $18.5 million and counts a network of publishers with 15 million subscribers signed up to receive deals.
Hearst's first deals-based offerings for the brands include discounts from Gladiator Garage, which sells workbenches and storage units for garages, and a Corvette driving school at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Nevada.
Kelt, CEO of Group Commerce, said Hearst wants all of its niche magazines offering deals by year end, such as Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Esquire.
“The whole premise of our business is that relevance is really important. The media companies have strong vertical titles and know who their reader is. Great content is really powerful, but great content with great commerce is even more powerful,” said Kelt.
In a separate digital move, Hearst Corp. is preparing to launch a service by year-end called Skiff, which aggregates digital newspapers and magazines for electronic reader devices.
An alternative to Amazon.com’s Kindle store, the current leader in the exploding category of digital reading, Skiff offers digital publications with state-of-the-art graphics, a digital storefront, and a back-end system for publishers for rendering.
Meanwhile, competitor Gilt City, a division of the Gilt Groupe, this week expands its luxury daily deals business to Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C., bringing its local footprint to ten US cities. Gilt Groupe has grown from a high-end flash sales site, to a locally viable competitor to Groupon and LivingSocial.