HGTV Magazine Tests Social Sharing Feature in Print

First to use Digimarc's new technology

HGTV Magazine is jumping on the e-commerce and social sharing trend. Its November issue, which hits newsstands Oct. 22, will let readers shop and share from the pages using technology from digital watermarking provider Digimarc.

Digimarc did a similar deal with Hearst Magazines sibling pub House Beautiful back in 2011, but HGTV is the first to use its new content-sharing feature, Digimarc Share.

With HGTV, readers will be able to use their smartphone or tablet to scan items from the magazine’s popular High/Low List, a regular section that’s been expanded to nine pages with this issue. Users will be taken to an HGTV-branded landing page where they’ll be able to tap to buy direct from the product page on the given retailer’s website or share to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Fiat is sponsoring the section and the technology.

This year, eMarketer predicts that 15 percent of online retail sales will take place on mobile devices, up from 11 percent in 2012. For print magazines to take advantage of the trend, however, the product has to be in stock, at least while the issue is on shelves, and the technology has to be simple to use. (Digimarc’s invisible watermarks are at least a step up from QR codes, whose ugly checkerboard can mar the look of the page.) HGTV editor in chief Sara Peterson said HGTV makes sure each item that’s featured in the magazine is available for sale anyway, and she liked the Digimarc technology for its ease of use and the fact that people can go right to the product page from the landing page “so you don’t get lost in the wormhole.”

The sharing feature seems like an obvious way for HGTV to take advantage of its heavy social presence. Its Pinterest board alone has some 195,000 followers (helped, of course, by the popularity of the eponymous network that spawned it).

“They do want to share those ideas and buy them for their own homes,” Peterson said.   

At the end of the month, HGTV will be able to see how well the technology worked: Digimarc reports the number of scans per item, how many times items were shared and to which social platform.

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