After the big jump towards branded content at newspapers like the New York Times, Vanity Fair and the Washington Post, it's the Los Angeles (LA) Times' turn to make the headlines, but they didn't quite take the same route. In an unprecedented move, the media group is launching into e-commerce with a view to provide the best online environment for native ads and branded content. A two-hit move.
The Los Angeles Times Media Group announced in a self-published article that it is launching District West, a digital shopping destination that will serve readers with curated fashions and goods made locally.
Not an app but rather a responsive website (which adapts automatically to the user's screen size), the e-commerce initiative is a great opportunity for advertisers to tap into a specific LA-minded audience who care about owning distinctive pieces and consuming hyper-locally – mirroring the slow food movement started there, only this time for non-edibles.
Items will be sourced from “distinctive LA neighborhoods including Santa Monica, Silver Lake, Downtown and Culver City,” says Jennifer Collins, the LA Times vice president, Revenue Development. "We are focused on diversifying our revenue streams and excited to leverage the marketing power of our properties to establish District West as a unique digital shopping experience."
To bring it up a notch, the LA Times will be feeding in with the shopping experience “tips and advice from savvy bloggers.” This, in itself, is another opportunity for the publication to push branded content to its readers, while securing a reassuring recommendation element from market experts. Clearly, it's also another conversion booster, beyond the smart fact that purchases can be made seamlessly from the newpaper's site, with just a swipe.
According to its audience stats, the combined publications of the Los Angeles Times Media Group reach approximately 5.2 million or 38 percent of all adults in Southern California. The Los Angeles Times' online version itself has over 22 million unique visitors monthly and a combined print and online local weekly audience of 4 million. Do the maths: with the price tag for District West pieces at $200 or less, figures quickly add up, both in terms of potential direct sales revenue and in terms of advertising revenues.
At least, the daily is very clear on its intentions – Collins simply states that “District West provides advertisers with an online environment perfectly suited to native advertising content and brand integration.” A candid approach that might make their platform even more attractive to discriminating buyers, especially amid the native advertising debate for transparency.
Good one, LA Times.