As publishers have made use of Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic back to their branded, Condé Nast’s Social Sidekick tool is meant to get its online readers to stick around longer and check out sibling magazine sites. The tool, which is starting to be rolled out this afternoon across six Condé Nast titles, also doubles as a sponsorship platform, with luxury label Gucci serving as the Social Sidekick’s first and exclusive sponsor for the next two months.
The Social Sidekick features “most liked/tweeted” content from Condé’s mag sites W, Glamour, Self, Teen Vogue, Lucky and the Style.com. The bar kind of hovers over an area on the lower part of a site’s screen and scrolls down when a user moves down the page, along with a plus/minus sign allowing viewers to close or expand it. If you click to expand the bar, it then shows multiple panes that each feature a single title’s article links with Gucci content below.
“We created Condé Nast Social Sidekick with two goals,” said Lou Cona, Condé Nast’s CMO. “The first was to cross-pollinate our various sites by exposing users to like-minded content in a given vertical. The second focus was to create an engaging media unit for advertisers.”
In other words, if an article on “handbags” is trending on Glamour.com, they could insert an ad for the same type of product in the Social Sidekick.
The tool is similar to interactive display ad formats, like AOL’s Pictela/Project Devil engagement ads, that lets advertisers monitor and react to how ads are being viewed in real-time. “In the Gucci panel, they can determine immediately what has been getting clicked and what has not,” Cona said. “It allows them to instantly analyze what’s working and customize the panel accordingly.”
The current sidekick will remain, as a cross marketing platform alone if no one sponsors it, but Condé Nast execs don’t feel that is going to be an problem, given the level of interest have. We may add more titles, less titles….it will depend on who the advertiser is. But we’ll have a fashion beauty vertical. Whether we ADD a second sidekick tool using other verticals is a possibility but we are waiting on consumer interaction to guide our next steps.
“The exclusivity gives Gucci first right of refusal for the Social Sidekick,” Cona said. “So there will be no competing effort while the Gucci campaign runs. Looking down the road, we can see a lot of ways to expand it to other verticals beyond fashion, including food and tech. But we’ll wait and see how users interact with the tool and go from there.”
In the meantime, the Condé Nast Digital Studio, the in-house R&D unit that developed the Social Sidekick starting eight months ago, is on a six-week project schedule, and is expected to come out with several new tools and initiatives before the end of the year.