Patrick Connors joined InStyle as publisher back in August 2015 to lead sales and marketing and develop new business opportunities for the brand. Since then, he and InStyle have celebrated severalbig wins, including doubling traffic year-over-year with an aggressive multiplatform digital content strategy.
But Connors and the InStyle team aren’t resting on their laurels. The brand recently reorganized and repositioned its digital business model by expanding its portfolio to include other Time Inc. brands. This offers advertisers more inventory, channels and audiences. And they aren’t done there. Next in sight is e-commerce.
Here, min catches up with Connors to hear more about the brand’s recent success and look towards some very big initiatives coming this fall.
min: InStyle has gotten a lot of recognition from min at our past two award events, winning Hottest Launch of the Past 30 years at our 30 Event, and Digital Team of the Year at our Best of the Web Awards. The former is very much in recognition to the work you’re doing in print, whereas the latter, obviously, is the work you’ve done in digital. So to put it simply: Why is InStyle killing it right now? What’s your secret sauce?
Patrick Connors: The secret sauce? It all starts with Ariel Foxman's great editorial that resonates with our audience across all platforms. For evidence that our formula is working overtime, look no further than our stats: In the past year, UVs have nearly doubled, with this April clocking in at over 6.7 million (comScore). We attribute this growth to smart content that is equal parts informational and inspirational—plus, there is now more of what our audience loves because we’ve doubled the volume of original content that we publish on InStyle.com each day. On top this, we just launched our newest vertical, Weddings, with more new verticals coming later this year, focused on lifestyle categories including home, entertaining and travel.
Bonus trivia: What’s the most shared story so far on our new Weddings channel? 'You Won’t Believe How Many Celebs Wore Non-White Wedding Dresses' – with more than 30K pageviews in less than a day!
min: How has the recent formation of The InStyle Collection already made an impact with your digital advertising business?
Connors: With over 10 million monthly UVs and a social footprint of 11+ million, The InStyle Collection offers scale; extensive social, native and video capabilities; rich data technology and measurable results. It also represents an opportunity for us to speak to more women with a variety of stylish interests.
min: What’s the feedback been like from your partners?
Connors: Excellent. They recognize that InStyle is ideally positioned to expand into new categories, while maintaining its core audience of fashion and beauty lovers across every age, style and personality. And with the highest HHI in the category, advertisers are particularly excited about the tremendous spending power of this audience.
min: You did an interview with The Daily Front Row back in February and indicated that commerce was an area you’re exploring. And on Friday, Time Inc. announced the hire of MaryAnn Bekkedahl as president of fashion and luxury. So can we assume that a commerce rollout is getting closer? And is there anything you can share now?
Connors: We see e-commerce as an opportunity to partner more deeply with our advertisers and more importantly, to learn more about our consumer. Plus, it’s a great service to our audience and a natural extension of what we do so well in print. We know that universal cart technology is getting better, so we are launching a program pegged to fall fashion.
min: So this is something we can expect to coincide with the September issue?
Connors: We recently completed a Retailer and Consumer Shopping Study where we found that InStyle is the #1 source women turn to when interested in shopping for fashion and beauty (the study compared InStyle to traditional and non-traditional competitors). So, as we approach September, the most important shopping season of the year for many of our partners, we wanted to make our e-commerce strategy as compelling and straightforward as possible. On September 6, timed to coincide with the September issue, we are launching Shopping@InStyle: Social will lead this e-commerce play, with all of InStyle’s social channels featuring lots of must-have product driving to the launch a new shopping vertical, offering the season’s hottest looks, trends and product from our editors and partners. Finally, we will be adding a new universal shopping cart so you don’t have to leave our site to do your shopping. One-stop shopping at its best!
min: Keeping with the future: What other big opportunities are exciting you?
Connors: We love the immersive magic of VR and have already launched two VR experiences: Drew Barrymore’s cover shoot last fall (the first time a national fashion media brand has created a virtual reality experience with a cover shoot!) and the Golden Globes party this past January, featuring actress Bella Thorne. We know the market and audience are still fragmented, but VR will continue to be exciting for our editors and advertisers so we’re testing and trying a lot of different ideas. We’re also very excited about the new LIFE VR app announced this month at NewFronts. LIFE VR will be Time Inc.’s dedicated VR platform that will offer immersive, next-level storytelling culled from Time Inc.’s 100 global brands. The Life VR app will be available this fall; stay tuned for details!