Content marketing strikes a pose

While recently scanning the magazine racks, my eye was immediately drawn to the launch issue of Porter magazine.

Porter is a beautiful piece of publishing. It will never be lauded as having an original format, but it’s bursting at the seams with the world’s top brands, supermodels and haute couture. The design and quality is a clear extension of the Net-A-Porter brand. Not only is the reader treated to the usual fare of top-end glossy print advertising, designer labels, cosmetics, jewellery and accessories, but the editorial is just as luxurious; with articles from such luminaries as David Bailey, the reader certainly has a sense that their $12.95 gives a reasonable return on investment.

This is content marketing at its best. Putting aside its luxe brands, extravagant gift-wrapping (a personal favourite touch) and premium prices, Net-A-Porter is an online shopping site turned global publisher. But the danger is in making assumptions about what share of its audience is so discerning. Porter is after its share of wallet and will definitely be taking chunks out of someone’s.

The model is the ideal content marketing arrangement: customers and vendors funding your marketing. Net-A-Porter is a shopfront with no shopfront costs, selling large volumes of someone else’s goods without any production overhead. It has printed a ‘catalogue’, which is so beautiful that its customers will pay for it. Net-A-Porter will no doubt be using its supplier relationships to leverage advertising deals in a way that traditional publishing models can’t. And that means it’s not a level playing field.

Net-A-Porter has invested in content marketing so well that it isn’t marketing through a one-page ad in Voguemagazine with a share of voice among other advertisers; instead, through the creation of its own magazine, it can tell its own brand story. The publication is more than likely cost-neutral or even profitable from leveraging supplier investment, fully maximising its owned media space. Content marketing is no longer considered ‘new’, nor is this model, but Net-A-Porter has done it so successfully that I was impressed. Let’s see if it can keep it up.

Other brands need to take note – and take on board – this shift in content marketing, to control their communications and own their audience simultaneously.

What must be galling to Vogue et al is that Net-A-Porter has built its empire on advertising. Now well established, it no longer needs Vogue … it is in vogue.