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May 2, 2016, 7 a.m.
Business Models

Hoping to redefine “trade publication,” Digiday launches Glossy, a vertical to cover disruption in fashion

“I hate the term ‘trade publication,’ because it implies being a boring cheerleader for the industry.”

Eight years ago, Nick Friese founded Digiday Media to cover digital disruption of the media and marketing industries. But media isn’t the only industry that’s been shaken up by technology, and Digiday is now expanding into other areas that are facing the threat and opportunity of the Internet. On Monday, the company is launching Glossy, a publication designed to explore the disruption of the worlds of fashion and luxury goods. And in doing so, it hopes to redefine what it means to be a trade publication.

“I hate the term ‘trade publication,’ because it implies being a boring cheerleader for the industry,” said Brian Morrissey, president and editor-in-chief of Digiday. “But in a time of a lot of flux and change, the [trade publication] role shifts. We’ve found a way to differentiate by, one, not being boring, because the competitive set is so broad now, and, two, by being really honest about not just the opportunity but the challenges that exist in the transition from the analog to the digital era.”

Shareen Pathak, Glossy’s managing editor, laid out some of those challenges in a letter to readers:

As luxury and fashion brands have started to embrace e­-commerce, they’ve been confronted with a whole slew of new challenges. New platforms are important; but which do you use, and which don’t you? How do you tackle existing legacy structures that make change difficult? And perhaps most important, how do you fulfill the expectations of a customer base that looks nothing like the people you sold your wares to just a few years ago?

Hillary Milnes will be senior reporter, and Bethany Biron will be junior reporter. Glossy also plans to hire an editor-in-chief in the fall.

Glossy’s content will appear on its website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The way the vertical is branded and designed is much more reminiscent of an actual fashion magazine (when I first glanced over some of the materials, I thought Glossy was a new print magazine) than a fashion trade publication. The publication’s coverage will be structured around “a handful of hot topics on a rotating basis,” like virtual reality in fashion or how Instagram is changing buying decisions at major brands. Other offerings will include a podcast and videos.

The diversified approach reflects the belief at Digiday Media that a company’s funding can’t rely too heavily on any one particular source. “We have 11 different ways that we make money here,” said Friese — and venture funding has never been one of them. Rather, the company relies on a mixture of advertising, content marketing, job postings, and various live events for revenue; in September, it also plans to launch a premium paywalled product. Digiday Media derives about half its revenue from monetizing various aspects of Digiday.com (the ads, content marketing, etc.) and half from its live events and awards shows.

There’s no one right model, Morrissey said — whether you’re chasing scale or trying to achieve focus, there are both pitfalls and opportunities. “Both models can work. It’s about execution,” he said. “We’ve been able to execute on having a diverse revenue model, and we’re always able to tweak it based on what works.” Digiday now has about 60 employees worldwide, with offices in New York and London and a partnership in Japan.

Digiday eventually plans to cover disruption in other verticals. Next up will be financial technologies. “We want to apply what we’ve learned over new industries,” said Friese. “We think they’re ripe for the type of media brand we’ve built with Digiday.”

POSTED     May 2, 2016, 7 a.m.
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