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Elle Magazine Teams With Swirl, ShopAdvisor, And RetailMeNot On Beacon, Geo-Fencing Program

The Hearst pub’s ‘Shop Now!’ mobile feature connects consumers to selected brands using location-based offers.

Elle's 30th Anniversary issue, with actress Keira Knightley on the September cover, will promote the mag's Shop Now! program.
Elle’s 30th Anniversary issue, with actress Keira Knightley on the September cover, will promote the mag’s Shop Now! program.

As brand name magazine properties extend their media sales expertise into integrated marketing, Hearst’s Elle is moving into proximity targeting with the introduction of a mobile offers tool within ShopAdvisor’s curated deals app.

The marketing effort is dubbed Shop Now!, and the concept involves presenting consumers choices of a variety of brands both online and on mobile, with a special promotional feature starting in the print version’s 30th anniversary September issue.

As Elle readers select their favorite brands within the apps or online, they’ll be provided with exclusive content and offers using location-based mobile technology — specifically, beacons and geo-fences. The brands launching with Shop Now! include Barnes & Noble, Levi’s, Vince Camuto, and Guess.

Fashion Forward

The timing of Elle’s geomarketing effort is intended to help the title stand out amid the typically feverish competition between the weighter-than-usual fashion print magazines, as the leading designers and retailers promote their upcoming clothing lines for the coming year in magazines’ September issues.

In addition to its placement within ShopAdvisor’s app, Shop Now! location technology will be supported with beacon marketing platform operator Swirl and coupon marketplace RetailMeNot. Meanwhile, proximity specialist Gimbal will be handing the geo-fencing aspects of the program, a spokesperson for that company told GeoMarketing (an Elle represented added that ShopAdvisor reached out and tapped Gimbal for its participation). Opted-in users of the RetailMeNot mobile app will be able to receive “exclusive beacon-triggered content and offers” when they shop at participating stores.

“Using the Gimbal platform, the ShopAdvisor app enables Elle to ‘connect-the-dots’ between its advertising partners, readers, and brick-and-mortar retail outlets with relevant and timely engagement,” said Kevin Hunter, Gimbal’s COO. “More important, the analytics and measurement generated through the campaign provide unprecedented insight into conversion and advertising effectiveness. To see the publisher community, and Elle specifically, embracing location and proximity-based mobile marketing reinforces our longstanding position of where we see the future of advertising.”

In total, the program is expected to reach over 27 million consumers’ mobile phones.

Integrated Geomarketing

The program brings Swirl together with Elle for the first time, a rep for the company noted. Aside from owning a controlling stake in the US publishing arm of Elle, Hearst is also an investor in Swirl and was a participant with Twitter Ventures in the Boston-based beacon provider’s $18 million April funding.

“This program provides a great example of how beacon marketing can be used by innovative publishers and brand advertisers, working together with retailers, to enhance the physical store shopping experience,“ said Hilmi Ozguc, Swirl founder and CEO, in an email. “Elle has a rich history of using technology to bring fashion and lifestyle content to life, and this program represents yet another way in which they are creating value for consumers and advertising partners.”

Swirl's Hilmi Ozguc
Swirl’s Hilmi Ozguc

In addition to its role as a launch sponsor with the three aforementioned clothing brands, Barnes & Noble is also a strategic partner with Elle in Shop Now! The bookseller, which has been ramping up other omnichannel marketing programs at its university shops, will install and activate Swirl’s beacons and geo-fences in over 640 its US outlets.

The Shop Now! With Elle effort is scheduled to run late August through September 25th.

“Consumers live their lives via mobile access,” said Kevin O’Malley, Elle‘s SVP/Publisher, in a statement. “The Shop Now! experience offers a direct link to them via relevant fashion/beauty content that engages and strengthens the connection and access to their favorite brands. Another core benefit—it is a retail traffic-driver for our partners.”

It’s not clear whether this exact program will be extended, but it’s safe to say that as major publishers like Hearst and Meredith Corp. become more involved as integrated marketing platforms between consumers, advertisers, agencies, and tech vendors, Shop Now! is likely to either influence other campaigns through the holiday season or even find itself expanded in some form.