Part 3: Case Study: The Real Proof Proximity Marketing Works

Pilot Goals

A well-known retailer wanted to test the impact on retail store traffic when mobile proximity-based offers were combined with their back-to-school branding campaign.  The pilot involved ShopAdvisor users only, the use of beacons placed in proximity to their stores, and the ShopAdvisor proximity marketing platform.

To protect ShopAdvisor users, three important measures were put in place. First, a limit was placed on the number of alerts allowed so as to not annoy the user.  Second, users were always in control.  They could turn off their location permission at any time, and/or elect not to receive notifications from the ShopAdvisor app. Third, no personally identifiable information was collected by the beacons.

The Optimal Consumer Experience

When a ShopAdvisor app user passed a beacon, they received a customized, mobile push alert notifying them of a nearby deal from the retailer (for example “you just passed a great <retailername> deal on 3rd Street”).

Clicking the alert brought the consumer to a mobile landing experience (much like those offered within ShopAdvisor partner magazines) with multiple options for exploring the retailer’s apparel.  There was also a mobile coupon and store locator presented.

Those shoppers who were ready to purchase could visit the nearby store to immediately redeem the coupon – those shoppers who were not ready to purchase could still save the coupon for a later visit and engage with the brand on their own terms.

Surprising Results

The combination of brand exposure in the city, combined with the ShopAdvisor proximity alert and durable mobile brand experience yielded 4x the store visit rate of similar mobile marketing/proximity programs available in market today.  In fact, of those shoppers who received the alert and explored the experience on their phone, 65% actually visited the retailer’s location(s).

Why was ShopAdvisor rate so much higher?  There were two primary factors:

  1. Many (nearly two-thirds) of those who received the push alert did not engage immediately, but rather opened and explored the shopping experience well after receiving the initial notification, and later were ready to purchase.  This “deferred” shopping behavior is consistent with what is observed among magazine readers who can shop directly from content in book or online.
  2. Some users had previously expressed interest in the retailer’s brand via the ShopAdvisor experience offered via magazine partners or through the app.  Those users were 3.5x more likely to interact with the alert, and 2x more likely to visit the store than those without this interest profile.  This demonstrates the importance of engaging and learning about shopper interests early in their journey (as in magazines) and then using this information to more effectively target brand/retailer offers.  This not only drives more shoppers into the store (where 90% of all sales still take place), but also enables full attribution back to the magazine source.

Practical Applications for Brands

This case study illustrates the potential to use a combination of traditional branding mechanisms (advertising) with cutting-edge mobile technology (proximity marketing) to lift in store visits for participating retailers, and more importantly quantify that lift.

To learn more, visit

Part 2: The Path from In-Book to In-Store. How to Drive More Retail Ad Dollars

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 4.08.14 PMIn the second part of this special series, we outline how publishers can utilize proximity marketing extensions to gain more advertising and sponsorship dollars from retailers.

Let’s assume for the sake of this article that all publishers offer their readers some option for shopping their print issues. It doesn’t matter if it is a simple edit credit for a retailer who carries the product, or a more sophisticated scan to mobile shopping experience using a combination of Blippar or Digimarc with ShopAdvisor. The goal is still the same. Publishers need to protect (and grow) ad dollars from key retailers, who constantly look for proof that their print advertising dollars are driving sales. And since 90% of all sales still happen in store, the fastest way to a retailer’s heart and purse strings is to prove that in-book advertising drives in-store traffic.

The problem is that closing the gap between what happens in media and what happens in retail has been difficult, if not impossible to do. That is until beacons and proximity marketing platforms were introduced. There is a reason the use of beacons is being called the “Holy Grail” for retailers (and media). Not only can they accurately track the source of foot traffic back to presence in a magazine, but they can also be used to increase the rate by which that magazine-driven foot traffic converts from browsers to buyers.

So exactly how does this work? Let’s take a look at an example of how a typical reader might go from discovering something in the pages of a magazine to visiting a local retailer as a result, and how beacons can be used to link these two actions.

Mary Loves Celebrity Looks

Mary is a voracious reader of entertainment content, both in print magazines and via their digital/social counterparts. She’s also a die-hard iPhone user, and has downloaded too many apps to count. Mary was thrilled when her favorite magazine introduced the ability to shop directly from the print issue and Twitter feed. As instructed, she used the ShopAdvisor app to scan the pages of the magazine to learn more about edit pick and advertiser products. She also caught a tweet about her favorite celeb and was delighted to see the associated shopping collection with one click. Mary found some looks she loved from the print issue and magazine’s tweet so she saved them to her ShopAdvisor account. She did note that Macy’s carried a few of the items (convenient since there was a store in her local mall) but she wasn’t ready to buy. About a week later, Mary was in the mall, and remembered Macy’s had some looks she liked. Unbeknown to Mary, Macy’s had placed iBeacons strategically at the entrance and around their store. So when Mary walked in, her ShopAdvisor app registered the beacon signal and recorded that Mary, who shopped from the October issue of magazine x and their Twitter feed a week earlier, had now visited a Macy’s store. Since Mary had items that Macy’s carried saved to her account, the app pushed her an instant notification with a special 10% off mobile coupon for all Macy’s apparel. Mary couldn’t resist.

The New Age of Measurement

In the previous example, if the magazine had not offered a way for print readers or Twitter followers to explore products in a measureable way, the relationship between Macy’s presence in the magazine’s content and Mary’s store visit would have been impossible to track. Nor would the magazine have received any credit for the resulting sale. But with beacons and proximity marketing platforms, that now all changes. Magazine titles can finally get the credit they so richly deserve.

How Do We Get Started?

There are three pieces that must be in place. Turnkey solutions like ShopAdvisor can handle all, with little setup time or cost:

  • Readers must have an app installed (with location permission turned on) that can listen for beacon signals. The ShopAdvisor app is already integrated with iBeacons and existing proximity networks like Gimbal. And since the ShopAdvisor app can be used as a scanner, as an in-store comparison shopping tool and much more, those who download it actively engage and welcome push alerts.
  • There must be context for targeting the user. By shop enabling content with ShopAdvisor, publishers can actually capture context and brand/product affinity as readers browse the pages of their magazine, website or social feeds. This context is then used to appropriately target messaging and offers that will be appreciated by readers. The resulting engagement metrics are invaluable in supporting ad and sponsorship sales efforts.
  • There must be a technology infrastructure for managing messaging rules and tracking all beacon activity. The ShopAdvisor platform is designed to handle an entire campaign, from the point of product discovery in a magazine, through the point of product purchase in store.

Up next – “Part 3: The Real Proof Proximity Marketing Works: Case Study Results”

To learn more about the potential of native commerce and proximity marketing revenue for your magazine, visit

Part 1: The Basics – Why Publishers Should Care About Beacons

A mobile couple

Open any marketing article and you’re bound to see the word “beacon.” They are being positioned as the Holy Grail for retailers since they can be used to drive store traffic and increase in-store conversion. You’ll be hard pressed to find retailers that don’t have plans to install them in store this year.

For publishers, beacons and proximity marketing is the Holy Grail because it will become possible to track a reader’s shopping journey, from the minute they discover a brand in your magazine, to the moment they walk in the store to purchase. Since 90% of sales still happen in store, that’s a whole lot of “credit” that is not being attributed to your title right now.

In the first part of this special series, we present a brief primer on beacons – the real challenges and opportunities for deploying them in today’s marketplace.

Poised To Explode

Beacons are not new. A beacon is simply a transmitter of a signal that can be recognized by a “receiver” programmed to listen. So why haven’t they been used for marketing until now? The answer is simple – until the proliferation of the smartphone and advent of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), it was not practical to place these transmitters in high traffic areas, nor was there a device that a consumer might carry with them to “listen” for these signals.

Thanks to today’s technology, a beacon is roughly the size of a hockey puck, costs about $10 per unit, and can be easily placed in locations where marketers might want to communicate with consumers, for example on an outdoor advertising panel on a city street, or at the entrance to a store.

According to Forrester, about 30% of smartphones are enabled to connect to beacons using BLE today, and that number is expected to grow to 80% in the next 15 months. So now you understand why we’re early in the adoption cycle, yet there is a real urgency to figure this out.

Let’s Get Practical

To use this technology it takes more than simply placing a beacon and waiting for massive BLE smartphone adoption. There has to be a shopping related app (of value) installed on that phone, plus the backend messaging infrastructure to turn a signal into a meaningful consumer engagement via that app.

Retailers today are taking a simplistic approach, placing beacons in store to help their existing app users navigate to specific departments. The more sophisticated (and ultimately the desired) use of the technology by retailers, such as messaging to a broader base of consumers located outside the physical store, who have a preference for that retailer and demonstrated intent to purchase a product the retailer carries, have not been implemented until now.

Companies like Gimbal and ShopAdvisor are changing this, partnering to offer a turnkey solution for taking product/retailer preference data and using it to drive in store purchase from a broader base of mobile shoppers – just in time for this holiday season.

How Can Publishers Play?

Ask yourself this question – what is valuable enough to you as a consumer that you would keep your smartphone location turned on, and install one shopping app that listens for BLE signals?

ShopAdvisor recently did a survey of female shoppers to answer this question. The resounding answer – the value received had to be personally relevant. They wanted to know if there was a deal for something they wanted to shop for, or for shopping at a store they liked to shop in. To sum it up in the words of one respondent, “…allow me to be the first to find the items that I love, with a price point I also love.”

Where do consumers turn to find the latest looks, or see what their favorite retailers are offering this season? Magazines of course. And that’s where magazine publishers have a distinct advantage, because they can capture that interest by offering shopping directly from their pages – and now, with the help of proximity marketing solutions from ShopAdvisor and Gimbal – turn that interest into a retail store visit they can get full credit for.

In closing, rest assured you are not late to the party. We’re just getting started. But if Forrester is right in their predictions, anything you can do today to pilot a proximity marketing program using beacons will put you way ahead of your competition when these programs are ready to scale. And that looks to be in the not so distant future.

Stay tuned for part 2: Creating the Path from In-Book to In-Store

To learn more about the potential of native commerce and proximity marketing revenue for your magazine, visit

Give your audience what they want: Best practices for shop enabling your content


More publishers are offering shopping directly from the pages of their print, tablet and web content. But are they doing it right? Here are some best practices that when implemented, really make a difference.

1. Give them more to shop. A recent survey found that readers want to shop for both ad and edit products.  Don’t frustrate them by selecting just a few articles to curate. Let them shop the entire issue. You’ll get higher engagement and stronger response.

2. Make it easy for your readers to learn about (and keep using) the shopping feature. Give them one main launching point for shopping in each issue. Use a promo page that lets them “shop the entire issue right from this page.” You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the response when they only have to take one action to gain access to all the products featured in the issue.

3. Make it easy for your readers to launch the shopping experience on their terms. Give them multiple options — scan an action code with an app like ShopAdvisor; text a short code to receive a link: or including a vanity URL they can access anytime.

4. Understand shopping and buying are two different things. Discovering is not a signal they will immediately purchase, which is why affiliate links often fail. Be sure to use a platform like ShopAdvisor which offers easy ways for your readers to save the products that interest them, with options to buy later.

5. Be the first to offer a product. On average, a fashion magazine might feature products of which 40% are not yet available in retail. Leverage your ability to be the first to offer a product. Offering them a service where you tell them when products become available at retail is the perfect opportunity to re-engage your readers and remind them of where they first discovered those products.

6. Use early learning as fresh content. What readers are engaging with most in your November tablet issue  within the first two weeks can then be pushed out across digital and social channels as “top reader picks” later in the month.

Want to offer readers the ability to shop every issue – even on mobile?  Try the free ShopAdvisor collection tool.  You’ll have a ready-made catalog of products curated from each issue (edit, advertiser or both) that is completely mobile-optimized, and easily linked from print, tablet, web and social each month.

Next: stay tuned for a three-part series on proximity marketing!

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Ambrose at

Are you maximizing revenue from your holiday issues? Five tips for driving more revenue, instantly


The holiday season brings great joy to the media industry – plenty of ad pages from retailers and an active base of readers who are ready to shop.  But many titles are not maximizing their opportunity to drive incremental revenue during this key timeframe.

Here are five tips for getting the most out of your holiday reader and advertiser base.

Extend the Opportunity

Every year the holiday shopping season starts earlier than the year before – readers are ready to shop right now.  Don’t wait until your December issue to offer special holiday advertising sections.  Make it easy for readers to shop on their own schedule by including holiday themed sections on your website beginning in October, and don’t forget about your January issue (in reader hands just prior to the peak shopping weeks, and the best sales begin Dec. 26 so there is still plenty of shopping to be done).

Do Take Advantage of the Big Three Shopping Days

Putting that gift guide in print early helps.  But there’s no better opportunity to drive measurable sales (that you can get credit for) than around Black Friday, Cyber-Monday or December 26.  Make sure all the gift guide content (edit and advertising) is repurposed and featured prominently across your social channels, where many of your mobile shoppers live.

Gift Guides Are Native Advertising Gold Mines

What better way to offer high value, truly native placements for your advertisers (that will drive measurable sales activity) than by integrating some of their products with editorial picks in your holiday guides?  Everyone wins.  More gift options are a good thing for your readers.  More exposure is good for your advertisers.  And both increase your potential to derive affiliate commerce revenue.

Get Credit from Key Retailers

Why stop with revenue from just your brand advertisers when you can complement the guide with a retailer sponsorship?  Just be sure to align the retailer with a category or theme.  For example, a guide for “best electronic toys for your guy” would be perfect for Target.  They carry the products you would feature in the guide – they want to generate as much traffic as possible to their stores and site – and would surely pay for category exclusivity to prevent their competitors from showing up in it.

Holiday Shopping Is More Than Just Gifts

Consumers are seeking more than just gift ideas from your holiday themed content.  They are seeking advice about what to wear to their office holiday party, or how to entertain friends at home in fun, creative ways.  So don’t keep it to just one holiday gift guide.  Create a shopping guide for every possible holiday theme.  The more guides, the more opportunities for advertiser placements and retailer sponsorships.

Want to create a themed holiday shopping guide that works everywhere – even on mobile?  Try the free ShopAdvisor collection tool.  You’ll have a ready-made catalog of products (edit, advertiser or both) that is completely mobile-optimized, and easily linked from print, tablet, web and social just in time for the holidays.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Native Commerce Done Right: People StyleWatch Draws Over 50,000 to Mobile Experience

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 3.12.23 PMWhat’s the recipe for success when your audience is increasingly mobile – wants to shop from your content – your advertisers want more native opportunities – but you don’t have a mobile optimized solution? People StyleWatch has cracked the code with their Celebrity StyleTwin mobile promotion.

Working with ShopAdvisor, the shopping experience company, People StyleWatch was able to create a mobile experience that provided the perfect context for shopping from editorial picks and advertiser content. The program went like this:

  • Users answered 10 quick questions about which looks they preferred.  The answers were mapped to one of 10 “Style Twins” (People StyleWatch Celebrity Style Council members).
  • Users were presented with their Celeb Style Twin and then had direct access to shopping collections tailored for that style.
  • Shopping collections included “edit picks” as well as fashion and beauty products promoted by advertisers
  • The program was promoted in book, via complementary Time titles, e-newsletters and across digital and social properties.

The result?

  • Over 50,000 (including many potential new subscribers to People StyleWatch) took the quiz within the first 3 weeks.
  • Users shopped. Depending on the day of week as many as 32% of those who took the quiz actively explored the shopping collections, being exposed to advertiser products.
  • Advertisers signed up – over 20 participated in a combination of in book print ads and the promotion.
  • People StyleWatch print ad pages were up 6% over last year’s September issue.

Any title can re-create this successful program by using the free ShopAdvisor collection tool {link to}. In just minutes you can create shopping collections that feature editorial picks and advertiser products around any theme. Try it today!

New study proves magazine content drives native commerce. Here is how you can get full credit for it.

hero mag

In today’s on demand world, it is no surprise that magazine readers want information about what they see — immediately. According to a recent study by ShopAdvisor, women ages 18 to 54 were asked about their shopping behavior as related to the products they saw in their favorite magazines. Some top line results:

Reading articles absolutely influences the way they shop. Over 33% said they often bookmark a page for later shopping reference, or shop for the items they see in the magazines.

– When shown a sample page, the number one “useful” tool would be the ability to get specific about exactly what the model was wearing, including brand, retailer availability and pricing.

– However precision was not always a good thing. The second most useful tool would be the ability to see similar items from different brands, at different price points.

– There’s a lag time between shopping from the magazine and buying in store since often many products are not yet available in retail. As one respondent said “be the first to help me get the looks that I love.”

Price still matters. Almost 50% of respondents said that if they saw something in a magazine and marked the page, they would likely buy that item if it went on sale.

So how can you get credit for this native commerce you are driving with every issue?

1) Make it easy for your readers to get the information on demand. The more you can engage them up front (and track it) the more you can prove you source product demand for your advertisers and retailers.

2) Don’t get too specific. Listing only one retailer isn’t helping your audience and certainly not your chances of driving a sale. Use a tool that enables you to go beyond a simple affiliate link, and feature all available online (and local) retailers.

3) Use changes in availability (or price) as a reason to re-engage and provide value to your readers. Alerting them when something they want is becomes available at retail is not only helpful, it reminds them that your title is where they found what they love.

It is easy to offer native commerce right from the pages of your magazine. Use the new ShopAdvisor Self-Service Tool.  Within minutes create a shopping experience tied to your content, including multiple retailers, automatic price alerts and more. Visit and try our new tool. IT IS FREE!!

All You’s Warming Trend

AllYou Dec 2013 cover

Okay, it’s officially winter, or just about. Time to get ready for the cold — and for the style watchers at All You, that’s just a great excuse for a fresh look at your winter wardrobe. They spot the “cozy textures for luxe looks that can ward off the chill” in a lead article, Uncover a warming trend.

We’ve noticed a similar warming trend among publishers who have embraced new opportunities as they explore ways to take their printed content beyond the printed page.

All You is among the first publishers to aggressively use its own branded app to include page-scanning that brings printed content to fuller life on the screen of a mobile phone. In the “warming trend” article, All You has identified over a dozen products worth a look. And they have used ShopAdvisor to engage readers more deeply.

AllYou Dec 2013

When reading this article on a tablet, the ShopAdvisor shop button invites the reader to tap to peruse the collection of warming items, explore where they can be found online and locally, and save some so ShopAdvisor can remind you about them later. With all the busy-ness of the season, having someone remind you of a good find is just what Dr. Santa ordered. If you are reading this on the web, you can click on the article instead, or scan it with the Digimarc Discovery app.

Advertiser Index, not 8 pt. type

ad indexMost publishers provide a reader — a page near the back of the magazine that mentions all the advertisers featured in the issue, or products and brands mentioned in articles. The advertiser index has a familiar look: a lot of text presented in a single paragraph presented in very small typeface. In contrast to the attention poured into all the other pages whose images and headline and text are carefully crafted to evoke pleasure, desire, or curiosity, the index pages have more of a feel like an encyclopedia entry. They’re useful, to be sure, as long as you’re prepared to enter a graduate-student mode of eye-squinting research.

Martha Stewart Weddings has upped the ante on that old model of advertiser index. In the Winter edition, a dozen advertisers have boosted their print ads by making them scannable with a mobile phone. Using the Digimarc Discovery client, readers aim their phone at the ad, and the ShopAdvisor experience allows them to explore the advertised products further, discover where to find the products in store, and to save items to their personal WatchList.

MSW Advertiser Directory_digimarc

You can look at the entire directory of advertisers and their products by clicking the Martha Stewart Weddings index page above. And, click (or scan) the ads below to see how individual advertisers — Noritake, Vietri, and Jenny Yoo — enhanced their lovingly crafted pages with the ShopAdvisor experience.