‘Lucky’ Mag’s Technology Solution

Shopping magazine uses app to launch user-generated section

Lucky, the Condé Nast shopping magazine, is launching an online section that will be entirely user-generated. The section, called Lucky Community, is set to launch in August and will be powered by Tidal.

Lucky, while it was founded on a democratic approach, has been trying to keep pace as fashion bloggers have increasingly challenged magazines as a style authority.

Brandon Holley, the editor in chief of Lucky, said the new section recognizes that readers want to hear from their peers as well as from editors.

“Top-down only takes you so far,” she said. As an editor, she said, “You can only do so much. This allows for much bigger growth.”

Holley built up a big online community at Shine, the women’s site she started for Yahoo—experience that led to her hire at Lucky. What makes Lucky Community different is the technology behind it, though. The magazine is working with Appinions, a platform that helps companies including Dell and Amgen and increasingly, publishers like The Economist and Forbes identify and monitor opinions relevant to their businesses, according to cofounder and CEO Larry Levy. Lucky is its first fashion magazine client.

For Lucky, Appinions is identifying the most influential fashion voices in media based on the level of response they get by way of comments, retweets and the like. Lucky will use those findings, which are presented in a dashboard, to find contributors to populate Lucky Community.

Once on the site, contributors may bubble up by being featured by the magazine’s editors or by readers themselves, who can vote on their favorite blogs. Contributors also will be encouraged to post under narrow topics that can't be addressed in the magazine for space reasons, like plus-size fashions and ethnic hair.

“There’s no better example in terms of a sector that’s being completely turned on its head,” Levy said of fashion. “How many examples do you have of kids 23, 25 years old, starting blogs and starting to set the tone of influencing fashion? [Lucky] is saying, let’s not create the content ourselves, but let’s go out to the community and find the most engaging producers of content and invite them to syndicate their content with us.”

Lucky Community grew out of the Lucky Style Collective, a network of 140 blogger contributors that Lucky formed a year ago. John Jannuzzi, an editor who oversees the Style Collective, will also be responsible for Community. Unlike the Style Collective members, who share in the revenue from ads sold against that content, Community contributors will be unpaid.

Lucky has combatted rumors that Condé Nast may fold the publication and go online-only. Its ad tumbled 17 percent to 405 in the first half of 2012 versus the year-ago period. That was in sharp contrast with most of the other major fashion monthlies, which showed gains in the same period. 

Holley said the goal for Lucky Community was to grow traffic—her goal is to double traffic in the next six to nine months—but was not being done with an eye to a possible online-only future.

“We have to have all components,” she said. “Our subscription renewals are the highest we’ve ever been. We have an iTunes edition coming in a few weeks. The magazine keeps getting readership, but we have to continue the conversation.”