The founder of a Web site combining passionate bloggers, original editorial and design, and online shopping thinks a new deal with Cosmopolitan magazine is win-win. "Print advertisers are seeking ways to get have cross promotion online, but don't have a simple easy program. We do," said Samir Arora, the chairman and founder of Glam Media Inc.
Rapid audience growth at Glam, he said, is a reason the company was able to ink an exclusive deal with the Hearst Corp.'s publication targeted at young women The deal will give the magazine's top 25 advertisers online advertising exposure throughout the Glam network of sites. Arora enthusiastically said that Cosmo, "saw us as an interesting company because we had the brand. We had the advertisers. We had a voice, and we had the editorial appearance that everyone aspired to."
ComScore Media Metrix reports Glam ranked 23rd among Women-oriented sites with 465,000 unique visitors in April.
Glam.com looks more like a magazine than a shopping Web site. Compare a page on Amazon.com to Glam. Glam's strategy, developed over 18 months prior to launch, was to create custom software to allow print-experienced editors and layout people to apply their design skills to Web pages. "What was in our vision, was to create a vertical, branded company that had a targeted audience as well as content that provides context and relevance for advertisers and readers," Arora said in an interview.
An unexpected secret ingredient turned out to be bloggers. Arora saw individual Web logs like FashionTribes.com and Girlspoke.com developing audiences, "tremendous power and reach, but not the tools to turn that into money."
"The growth in the blogosphere was much faster than we expected. We saw they were aggregating tremendously qualified audiences, and we very quickly began looking for the best of the best," Arora said.
Glam.com created a network of these blogs, giving their writers national promotion and a share of ad revenues.
The other part of the Glam plan is online sales. The company's editors select from a million products from 1,200 brands and 60 retailers to find the latest and greatest. "Glam.com is the first site to mix the visual appeal of a high-end fashion magazine, the browsing experience of shopping in a store, and the immediacy of buying online," Arora said. Glam receives a commission of between 10% and 20% from the retailers.
After less than a year, Glam Media is broadening the scope of its Web effort, continuing to focus on women but evaluating whether to expand into "complimentary channels" such as home, spas and luxury travel. Art and design, food and wine, film and television are also possible additions.
Venture-capital funded Glam presented at last fall's 2005 Demo show. Watch it.