Lagardere, AvantGo in Distribution Pact

French magazine publisher Lagardere SCA is rolling out a new distribution channel for several of its U.S. publications in connection with mobile software firm AvantGo .

Through the agreement, the publisher’s new media unit, Lagardere Active, will provide content from ten Hachette Filipacci Medias U.S. magazines to be distributed using AvantGo’s Mobile Internet Service application.

Featured titles will include Car and Driver, ELLE, Woman’s Day, Boating, Cycle World, Mobile Entertainment, Premiere, Road & Track, Sound & Vision, and Travel Holiday. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

For Lagardere, which through the deal is making its inaugural venture into wireless, the move aims to use wireless content as a tool for boosting sales of Hachette magazines — since most of the “articles” will actually be excerpts from copy that appeared in print. Accordingly, users are directed to check out the magazines if they want to read more.

“We don’t want to encroach on the print business, but more importantly, the storage capacity on most wireless devices is not ample enough to accommodate full articles,” said Ben Tatta, chief operating officer at Lagardere Active.

To smooth users’ transition from reading wireless content to actually purchasing a magazine subscription, the company’s branded channels on AvantGo will house a new e-commerce application, allowing readers to sign up for a subscription.

In addition to using the platform to move magazines, Lagardere Active also plans to sell sponsorships to current advertisers of the magazines and Web sites.

The wireless channels launches with cosmetics giant L’Oreal as its inaugural advertiser, and Tatta said he anticipates more to sign on in coming weeks, as more advertisers find the wireless channels to be a valuable add-on to offline and Web-based media buys.

“That’s the beauty of special-interest publishing — you have a very loyal readership, but also a very loyal base of advertisers,” he said. “And more and more, advertisers are looking for an integrated ad package … so this is a really important extension. Now, when we do our annual schedules with advertisers, we can incorporate wireless as part of the mix.”

The move also marks the latest move by Lagardere to capitalize on emerging media, in a time when most big-name publishers are reluctant. In February, the publisher tapped ActiveBuddy to deploy an Instant Messenger “bot” associated with its ELLEgirl magazine. Additionally, Lagardere Active is also exploring interactive TV applications, Tatta said.

“Lagardere Active was set up to help guide the multi-platform build-out of Lagardere and its media assets,” he said. “We felt that it was important for us to move aggressively into the space, both to service customers and to offer advertisers a new way of getting their message wrapped around content.”

The agreement with Lagardere also marks the single largest publishing deal for New York-based AvantGo.

“Our high-performance mobile marketing medium is ideal for Lagardere Active, and we are delighted to be providing a unique advertising model that delivers results to its advertisers and distributes high quality content to its target audiences,” said AvantGo Vice President of Sales Neil Versen.

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