PopSugar Set to Launch a Nifty Social Shopping App This Month

Will the publisher's data push it past the competition?

PopSugar, the leading indie women's lifestyle publisher, knows a ton about millennial women, and it’s now layering its data atop its shopping-based ShopStyle network to create Fave, a social commerce app set to launch in early November.

“Traditionally, ShopStyle hasn’t been good for inspiration or discovering new brands,” PopSugar CEO Brian Sugar said. “We have 100,000 favorites that are happening on a daily basis, so we wanted to create a very inspirational network around brands and users interacting with products.”

Fave runs in the same vein as Polyvore and Want, Need, Love with an analytical twist. Users create a profile by going through a battery of questions to determine their favorite brands. Similar to the desktop ShopStyle experience, women can create looks to share on social media, click on items to purchase from retailers and get notifications when clothes go on sale. Now, on the app, they can also upload their own photos and tag brands or view other influencers’ profiles, including companies like Nordstrom, Free People, Barneys, ASOS, Urban Outfitters and Farfetch, which will be on Fave at launch.

Fave is powered by user data.

The more consumers use Fave, the more PopSugar becomes informed. The app then suggests other like brands they might find appealing, and when they log into their connected ShopStyle account on their computers, their search results and ads served will change based on their Fave preferences (and vice versa).

Gartner analyst Jennifer Polk said there are a few similar products, like Polyvore, but it’s rare to see one launched by a publisher. PopSugar’s vast reach offers a bounty of numbers to tap. “With robust ad analytics, PopSugar could be valuable to brands, which can integrate data with cloud marketing and access data from other publishers,” Polk said.

Sugar said that the San Francisco-based company began to delve into data a few years back to learn more about its target user, a hypothetical 31-year-old mother named Alex. Core to the company’s objectives is being vertically integrated, so it wanted a way to connect what it knew—whether through video viewing habits, box subscription rates or reading habits—to create a better experience for Alex and the brands that wanted to reach her. “It’s important to know who your Alex is, understand what is missing from Alex’s world and try to create a product or space so Alex likes you more,” he said. “All we can hope is that Alex spends more time on the apps or sites or TV shows or boxes that we create. We want to have more and more of Alex’s time throughout the day.”

Jon Gibs, vp of analytics at digital agency Huge, fears that with too much targeting PopSugar’s fans might get spooked by being followed across the products they view. “If you have a bunch of sites that are showing you things according to data but aren’t perceived to be affiliated, it can turn off some users,” he said.

But PopSugar might have an advantage since it’s a connected ecosystem, noted Jill Sherman, DigitasLBi vp of social and content strategy. Users who search for content on its properties feel like their experiences are customized if they see similar items across the network. “This kind of information could inform how the website prioritizes content that you see,” she explained. “The implications go beyond targeted advertising.”