Twelve major media companies hope to serve national advertisers and bump up e-commerce with a new platform that marries the performance of printed newspaper circulars with the interactivity and convenience of mobile.
Wanderful Media, announced today, aims to add in recommendations from friends and social media with national, regional, and local advertising to get consumers into local stores. The digital platform will be white-labeled by individual media companies and available on the web, mobile phones, and tablets.
Wanderful investors include Advance Digital, A. H. Belo Corporation, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., Cox Media Group, The E. W. Scripps Company, Gannett Co., Inc., GateHouse Media, Inc., Hearst Corporation, Lee Enterprises, MediaNews Group, The McClatchy Company, and The Washington Post Co. Together, they provide reach into more than 80 percent of U.S. markets, the company said.
Consumers like the discovery factor of circulars, and they love hunting through them for bargains, said Ben T. Smith IV, CEO of Wanderful Media. "With a tablet app being at the center of the experience, it's something people can lean back with and discover shop opportunities curated by their friends or local celebrities," he said.
Details of social media integration and recommendations are still sketchy, but Smith said that the company expects that the same people who are very active in creating reviews and recommendations on other social networks will participate on Wanderful's. The company will build a set of tools that allow users to ask for feedback, he said. For example, a shopper could ask his network, "I'm considering these two pairs of shoes. Which ones do you like?"
According to Smith, when you launch the app, you might see 10 or 15 different pictures of things you might be interested in buying. You will have the ability to click through and say, "Show me more things like this." If people in your network have said, "That's a great deal," you will be able to see other things they like. Wanderful may also reach into Facebook's Open Graph and interest databases of Twitter and Pinterest, Smith said. "You will be able to find much more information than you could find in a circular."
Wanderful operates Find n Save, a network of local shopping portals for newspapers, and it acquired Travidia, a provider of online marketing technology. Wanderful Media's platform will use some of Travidia's tech and the distribution aspects of Find n Save.
Grant Moise, vice president, digital, for The Dallas Morning News, part of A.H. Belo Corp., said Wanderful will provide what he thinks of as an online mall for the newspaper's advertisers. His team sells search, social, digital display, video, and mobile. But in the past, he said, "When a sales rep would go in and say, 'Look at this slick digital solution,' the advertisers would say, 'Ohmigod, that's cool, but if you don't give me meaningful scale across the country or at least a region, it's not worth my time to test it.' We as an industry are putting our power together to scale one solution."
The platform also will give newspapers digital cred, according to Moise. He said, "We're showing our digital audiences that we can play a significant role in the shopping space, just like we have in the print newspaper space, in our case, for the past 127 years. Sunday preprints have been a big part of the consumer shopping experience. Our goal is to continue that relevance. If we can appeal to the consumer, we know the ad dollars will follow."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014