It’s somewhat rare when two independent media sites partner on a business-led initiative, but in today’s competitive landscape, strange times makes for strange bedfellows.
This fall, Bustle is linking with Coveteur on fall fashion and beauty content that includes custom photo shoots, videos, special features and an Instagram Story series. The content will live under the Fall Style Edit vertical of both sites and will be touted across social media platforms. The pop-up vertical will launch on Sept. 1 and be updated with new content for three months.
The sales teams from both sites are amassing advertisers for the partnership, which has been described as a 50-50 revenue share on the content.
Although the Coveteur has worked with other sites such as Refinery 29 and WhoWhatWear on purely editorial collaborations, it has never partnered with another company’s sales team on a broader content deal. Bustle digital group chief revenue officer Jason Wagenheim noted that the partnership is new territory for his company, too.
“This is about an awesome collaboration between two important digital brands,” Wagenheim said, noting that Bustle and Coveteur were inspired by the mass market and designer collaborations in fashion.
He cited H&M’s Balmain partnership, as well as Target’s collaboration with Isaac Mizrahi, likening Bustle to a mass brand and Coveteur to an upscale brand.
“We talked about high-low collaborations in fashion. We can bring luxury fashion at scale and make it feel more relatable,” he said. “Our content is super-relatable and authentic…luxury fashion sometimes is aspirational and unattainable.”
To elucidate how Coveteur is high-end and Bustle is mass, Wagenheim pointed to each site’s content and audience. Bustle appeals to Millennial women and the brands it features in its style coverage tend to be more economical, whereas the Coveteur’s readership skews older and its report focuses on luxury goods.
“For the partnership, it’s a true mix,” said Coveteur cofounder Stephanie Mark, who noted that shopping guides in the Edit will include a range of price points for apparel and products.
She also said some stories will be unique to one site and lead readers to the other site with related coverage. That will help drive web traffic, she said, while highlighting upcoming stories on the makeup and skin-care products that beauty editors actually use, a profile of women over size 20 getting fitted with designer clothes and a stylist’s shopping guide.
“My approach is that it’s the Internet, there is more than enough [revenue] to go around,” Mark said. “There’s still a ton of undiscovered revenue…the best way to do it is to do it together.”
Despite a difficult retail and fashion advertising environment, Mark and Wagenheim said their companies are experiencing revenue growth in those categories, in part because clients are looking to advertise with digital native firms. Neither would provide actual figures, but the six-year-old Coveteur said in the last two years, revenue has doubled year-over-year, while at the four-year-old Bustle, revenue for the first half of 2017 is up 50 percent, buttressed by growing sales from branded content.
“We’ve doubled down on fashion and beauty,” said Wagenheim, who offered that those categories have grown 130 percent over the first half of 2016. “Our average deal size in the beauty space tripled from last year…the average deal size is in the low-to-mid six figures…we are capturing share from the pure-play space and the traditional competitors.”
Still, Wagenheim conceded that unlike traditional media competitors in the fashion and beauty space, his company has a relatively small revenue pot and therefore has room to grow. Legacy media giants such as Condé Nast or Hearst Magazines are trying to find new ways to grow already sizable revenue streams in the face of shrinking print advertising revenue.