New Hearst App Blends the Marketplace with the Newsroom
New app leverages Hearst content into retail experience.
There have been tons of focus groups, studies and market research done on the topic: how do you intersect content and commerce? A new app designed by Hearst and Barcode Hero will do just that – directly connecting shoppers with relevant editorial reviews.
The free social shopping app, which launched March 21, will allow potential customers using Apple mobile devices to access reviews from RealBeauty.com, which generates editorial coverage of cosmetic products and beauty trends, and 1UP.com, a site that gives video gamers insight on the best games, systems and controllers, among other things.
"We’re just always looking for new and innovative ways to interact with audiences and find new audiences," said Kimberly Lau, Vice President of Business Development for Hearst Magazines Digital Media.
Lau said editorial reviews will be coupled with product critiques and appraisal from real consumers — the combination is expected to give shoppers a well-rounded assessment of product information from experts and clients who have already purchased the products.
According to Lau, the concept is designed so that shoppers may scan products with the Barcode Hero app, write reviews, recommend products and share things that they’ve purchased while also following other individuals that have purchased similar products. Users will use editorial reviews as a reference when shopping for that perfect lipstick or new video game.
"The fascinating thing about mobile [apps] is the ability to connect community with shopping with editorial. When the opportunity came, we viewed it as a great opportunity to play in that space and get our feet wet," she said.
The idea came about when Barcode Hero, originally known as Kima Labs, Inc., contacted 1UP.com, which in turn introduced RealBeauty.com to the partnership. So far Lau said no money has been exchanged for the collaboration. "At this point [the venture] is totally mutually beneficial," she said. "We’re providing content and [the] supporting community, they’re giving us the opportunity to play." Lau said the groups are in discussion about the ability to pull in possible advertisers.
Lau said this is just one of many new ventures the brands are exploring.
"We’re trying to experiment with getting closer to where consumers are intersecting with commerce," she said, adding it’s an opportunity to try and, "better understand that intersection of content and commerce."
One similar app the Hearst brands have been working on is the Seventeen Magazine Fashion Finder. "Shop for Prom on your iPod touch and iPhone!" the magazine’s site advertises.
"The Hearst Magazines Apps Lab team has been aggressively experimenting with a wide variety of approaches for ‘beyond the web’ digital experiences," Chris Wilkes, Vice President of Digital Editions, Magazines & Apps for Hearst Magazines Digital Media, said in a prepared statement.
"In the last year, Hearst has developed over 70 unique apps or digital product lines across multiple platforms including Apple iTunes, Google Android, Barnes & Noble Nook Color and the Zinio Newsstand," he said.
In the view of Barcode Hero, the blending of these ideas has so far proved advantageous.
"Hearst’s extensive library of published reviews on a wide range of products consumers are interested in, coupled with its leadership role in exploring new content driven apps, made the company a natural partner," Blake Scholl, co-founder of Kima Labs, said in a news release. "Pairing content created by industry experts with user generated content is the next evolution in utility driven apps."