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Mr Porter

Screw advertising, start a niche online publication

Why spend thousands to advertise in a top-notch magazine while you can start a whole new publication online for the same amount?

Talita Calitz
Talita studied Journalism and Visual Communication at the University of Pretoria. Travelled a bit, worked here and there and now resides in Cape Town where she’s the... More

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That is exactly the current mind-set of more and more companies, which have discovered that targeting your audience with a niche approach pays off better than advertising. Why? Well, who wouldn’t like a brand that thinks creatively outside the box?

Printing their own publications

The fashion industry seems to be leading the pack with this increasingly popular trend. Marketing director of BLK DNM, Max Vallot has been quoted saying that “the consumer is much more likely to engage with independent editorial content than with conventional, purely product-focused advertising.”

The man who introduced the jeans brand started a magazine at the same time called Gazette, a black and white publication. It hardly mentions denim and is distributed free online. He is of the belief that it is worth investing in new ways of advertising, as it is becoming “harder to differentiate a brand through product than through advertising today.”

Independent publications like these can create better connection with a brand’s consumers without putting them off with overbearing marketing. It gives an edge to a brand and can make it seem more exclusive.

Cybermagazine NOWNESS, which is part of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) was launched in 2010 independently and makes almost no referral to its owner. This seriously niche publication focuses on creative minds working in several artistic industries today with an exclusive approach.

Its aim is to address the world of luxury in a non-promotional way. With more than 300 000 registered users this kind of communication with consumers seems to be invaluable.

Editor-in-chief, Jeremy Langmead of Mr. Porter, a division of the online magazine and retail website Net-a-Porter, agrees that “The Web offers advantages simply impossible with print: We can see how much a reader lingered on a page, what he skipped, and then what he bought.”

Witnessing the behaviour of the reader or buyer can tell these brands a lot of what these individuals like and don’t like, thus making it easier for the brand to adapt to these patterns.

Charitable foundations

A number of these publications are also either part of or give money to charitable foundations. Fashion brands such as Prada that have established foundations appeal to people as they feel that they are giving something back when buying from the brand.

Top contributors

Instead of hunting down potential advertisers and spending time negotiating with media companies, these brands get their publications noticed with the help of contributions by top editors, writers, designers, photographers and artists who use their expertise to put these publications together.

These are generally people they have long-term relationships with and usually only pick those they think are good enough to be part of their projects.

Most of these individuals are already established in their specific field and help the publications gain even more followers by letting their own fans flock to see their newest illustrations, photographs, articles or short films.

No ads on these sites

The online and print publications are entirely funded by the brands themselves and don’t rely on advertising. Glancing over these online publications absence of any ads is noticeable.

It is refreshing not having your attention being pulled away from the content to something that has no relevance to the reason you are browsing the website. People do dislike ads popping up on a screen and by keeping clear of these, sites like NOWNESS seem crisp, clean and to the point.

The fact that a lot of these brands aren’t trying to sell might happen to be their biggest selling point yet.