Flip.com Creates New Business Model for Conde Nast
New Web site opens up advertising and marketing opportunities that would not be offered on traditional magazine sites. By Marrecca Fiore
When CondeNet flipped the switch on Flip.com two weeks ago, it opened the door to a new publishing model for parent Conde Nast. "It’s our first foray into something other than our content push, top-down editorial," says Dee Salomon, senior vice president of sales and marketing for CondeNet. "It’s not that we don’t have user-generated content on our magazine sites, but Flip.com isn’t attached to any magazine."
Flip.com allows teenage girls (and boys if they so chose) to create "flipbooks," a computerized scrapbook of sorts showcasing their personalities, interests, favorite celebrities and politicians, and whatever else they want to throw on the pages. Although participants can interact with each other, it isn’t quite a social networking site in the traditional sense, says Salomon. Instead, it’s a user-generated site with a social networking aspect to it. "Social networks revolve around communities of people," she says. "Myspace is more or less communities formed through profiles."
The marketing strategy behind Flip.com was two-fold. First, CondeNet wanted to deliver to its advertisers a certain age demographic – girls between the ages of 13 and 19. And, second, it wanted to deliver to advertisers a certain psycho-demographic – girls who are creative and artistic. "The advertisers we’ve show it to are more upscale advertisers who know they want to reach girls in the digital space and haven’t felt safe in other social networking sites whose audiences are not as targeted," says Salomon.
Eliminating the Editorial
Turning Flip.com into a completely user-generated site also gives CondeNet another in with advertisers that it doesn’t otherwise have on its magazine Web sites. "We’re not running banner ads on the site," says Salomon. "We’re actually putting the ads into a bin and allowing users to upload the advertisements into their flipbooks.
Currently, users can upload advertisements from Vera Wang Princess perfume, retailer PacSun, face wash Clean & Clear, and department store Nordstrom BP. Vera Wang Princess perfume furthers its presence on the site by offering users a chance to find out what kind of "Vera Wang princess" they are. Other advertisers are offering contests, like PacSun, which is giving fashion-forward users the chance to "shadow a pro" on a PacSun photo shoot. Users can also form clubs around brands, such as the Vera Wang Princess Club. "We’re letting users submit their content to advertiser-sponsored contests," Salomon says. "It’s not like anything we’ve done before in that, with this, we don’t have to follow the ASME guidelines on separation of church and state. It’s a very innovative way to market the site and a real pull to advertisers."
To get the word out about the new site, CondeNet has advertised in Teen Vogue, and launched a direct marketing campaign to Teen Vogue’s 96,000 "It Girl" members. Since it launched February 6, more than 4,000 flip books have been created and users have started more than 500 clubs.