NZME's flagship lifestyle brand Viva comes as a separate magazine inside the Herald. And now it also comes as a separate website, viva.co.nz.
Amanda Linnell, who has been promoted to managing editor after seven years as editor, says ramping up Viva’s offering from weekly to daily with the new responsive site "is an exciting and natural evolution from the success over the last 12 years of the weekly magazine".
“Viva is a leading and trusted voice for New Zealanders who love the good things in life. We’re responding to the clear audience and advertiser demand for a new digital offering that provided more of what our audiences love and a premium environment for our advertisers.”
Nielsen's latest readership stats showed that Viva has 267,000 readers in print, down from 303,000 at the same time last year. Even so, it achieved 12 percent growth in print advertising last year. That seems like an anomaly when looking at overall newspaper advertising figures. And when asked why it was going up when readership was going down, she said its younger readers were dropping off and going online, but its core audience (females living in households with high income levels, who are "far more likely than average to be in the top socio-economic levels") was as strong as ever. And she says they're the ones who trust the brand and drive across town to dine at a restaurant that's been reviewed or try on a new jacket that appears on its pages.
"Our advertisers see the results," she says.
When Viva content was inside the nzherald.co.nz ecosystem, it had 38,000 monthly unique browsers, according to its media kit. That hub on the homepage will remain but readers who click on content are now redirected to viva.co.nz. Viva content will also be integrated across NZME's other platforms.
There's plenty of online competition in the lifestyle space, whether it's Metro, Bauer's Fashion & Beauty, Mindfood (and Mindfood Style), Vice Media's i-D, Denizen, Concrete Playground, international sites or other local bloggers/vloggers. And as far as restaurants go, there are a host of online review sites available. But Linnell says Viva is different as it's already got a really strong, trusted brand and she says its advertisers asked for a premium digital advertising environment because they felt there wasn't anywhere else to go.
One of the joys of this area for publishers and advertisers is that readers often seem to see the advertising as an important part of the content (particularly in print). That certainly seems to be the case with the ad for Karen Walker Jewellery featuring on the homepage, because it looks a lot like a story. But when asked if it accepts payment for editorial inclusions or looks after its advertisers, she says no and that maintaining its editorial integrity is paramount.
Smith & Caughey’s is on board as a premium advertising partner for the website’s launch. And Linnell says the new website, which was developed internally, will give advertisers a raft of expanded opportunities to connect with Viva’s audience, such as content partnerships and sponsored stories. She says these will be clearly marked.
Its marketing campaign for the launch asks ‘What inspires you?’ and it is currently running a takeover on the Herald and other NZME properties.
"That says it all for us because that’s what our editorial staff love about Viva, giving our audiences inspiration and ideas for living the good life, from around the corner and around the world. Now we get to do it every day."
Becoming a daily site means it has had to make some changes to its staff roster. Fashion journalist Zoe Walker has been promoted from features editor to associate editor, fashion stylist Dan Ahwa has been announced as fashion editor across Viva and Canvas, and Jessica Beresford, formerly of Fashion Quarterly, joins to spearhead the online brand as digital producer.
With print advertising generally declining and the promised riches not really materialising online, publishers are looking to readers for revenue. And in August last year, NZME launched ShopViva in collaboration with GrabOne, which is based on the idea that readers should be able to purchase the items that are displayed editorially in the magazine (NZME has been asked for some figures to show how successful it has been since launch in terms of revenue and we'll update the story if we hear back). This section is also prominently displayed on the new site, along with all of the various social media platforms Viva operates on.
UPDATE: Richard Harrison, Director eCommerce and New Ventures, NZME, says: "There are currently over 180 brand labels onsite with Shop Viva, hosting over 4000 products, and there are over 15,000 subscribers to Shop Viva which continues to grow. With the new www.viva.co.nz, we will be creating tight integration between that site and Shop Viva which is a great step forward for our customers and our advertisers. It will mean an excellent online experience, from seeing the beautiful content and products on Viva to being able to buy those products directly."
GrabOne was only involved in terms of managing the backend and ensuring that the e-commerce structures were in place and working effectively. The items offered via the site are determined by the independent ShopViva team.
The site features mid- to high-end brands from New Zealand and abroad, with the aim of appealing to a higher spending market.
“We’re in print, online, we have an app, and we’re even on radio via Mix98.2 [along with other NZME brands Bite and Canvas], so we are delighted to launch ShopViva as an online destination which, like our other media, will complement our editorial content," Linnell said at the time.
Internationally, arguably the most successful example of a high fashion online retailer would be Net-a-Porter, which was founded by Women's Wear Daily and Tatler journalist Natalie Massenet in 2000. The company quickly grew into an online retail juggernaut, and in 2010, when sold to Richemont, was valued at US$533 million.
Interestingly, at a time when most media owners are shifting toward digital channels, Net-a-Porter launched a magazine called Porter last year. The company is also active on YouTube, uploading videos on the latest trends quite frequently.
Online retailer Asos is another example of a company that straddles the content and retail worlds. And though the company started out as a retail organisation, it also launched a magazine in 2007, which still enjoys a strong readership in the UK.
Given that Asos is targeted at young adults, its YouTube channel features a range of quirky videos that give customers tips on what to wear.
In many ways, these moves are symptomatic of the continued blurring of the lines between the different channels across media and retail. And in the same way that retailers are encroaching onto the media space by developing content marketing initiatives, publishers are also moving across to retail.