Target ‘s Digital Circular Lands on Hearst’s Kaboodle

Claiming a first for social media, Hearst Magazines has struck an ad deal with Target Corp. that will put the retailer’s digital circular on Hearst’s online shopping community, Kaboodle.

Using ShopLocal’s SmartCircular technology, Hearst launched the digital version of Target’s weekly ad on Kaboodle’s Sales & Stores channel.

“This is the first time that any weekly circular has been introduced to a [digital social] community,” said Rose Mills, Midwest sales director for Hearst Digital Media. “With a social community shopping site, users come when they’re researching, discovering, becoming aware of products. The fact that a retailer is using an online circular [in] a social community is allowing them to get in the purchase funnel as [shoppers are] getting closer to a sale.”

Using the online circular, shoppers can sort and filter items by product category, then add them to a shopping list and share them with others—just as they can with existing items on the site.

Typically, items get featured on the site through user or editor recommendations. And while it’s not uncommon for shopping sites to blend editor-curated and advertiser chosen picks, the combination can raise the spectre of advertising-editorial line blurring.

With Kaboodle, Mills stressed that advertiser-related items are labeled as sponsored. “There is a clear distinction between what is sponsored content and what is content from the editors,” she said.

The Target campaign includes standard ad units that will run through January 2010 on Kaboodle and on the sites of three of Hearst’s women’s magazines, Redbook, Marie Claire and Good Housekeeping. Surfers who click on the weekly ads will be directed to the circular or to Target’s site.

Hearst bought the 3-year-old Kaboodle in 2007 with hopes of growing it by leveraging Hearst’s existing fashion and beauty advertising relationships.

Separately, Hearst said it is working to develop a package of online ad formats that will use behavioral and geographic targeting to create contextually relevant products and offers. Hearst is working with Gannett’s PointRoll as well as ShopLocal to develop the products, which it’s calling Shopping Suite.