Artspace.com recently launched its online magazine, making it the latest art commerce website to tap into the “storytailing” marketing trend.
Artspace, one of a growing number of online platforms selling contemporary art, announced the official inauguration of their magazine in March 2013, following a cash injection from venture capitalists Canaan Partners. The move highlights a trend in marketing towards combining media with retail to boost sales and website traffic.
Following the USD8.5 million investment, Artspace expanded the magazine’s editorial team, reports Gallery NY, taking on Walter Robinson, former editor of ARTnet magazine, as a bi-monthly columnist. The magazine is steered by editor Andrew Goldstein, who previously worked on the New York Times, ARTnews and ARTINFO, among others. Artspace have also engaged Russian art collector Maria Baibakova as strategic director in an effort to expand their global market reach.
The magazine’s content, updated daily, is a mix of news, features and interviews with art scene luminaries, as well as the Art 101 column, which is positioned as a rough guide to understanding the art world. Media content is integrated into the Artspace website, with articles running alongside images of artworks available for purchase.
Artspace CEO and co-founder Catherine Levene, who worked on the online team of the New York Times before starting Artspace with Chris Vroom, explained to Dwell Magazine that original media content is integral to her vision of “an online destination that [is] a cross section of three worlds: digital media and information, e-commerce and fine art.”
Art marketing pioneers
Artspace’s magazine launch is the latest example among art websites of “storytailing”, a growing marketing trend whereby businesses combine targeted media content with retail strategies “to retain customers and improve sales“, says online business magazine Anthill.
- Online auctioneers 1stdibs.com were among the first in the art world to try storytailing, with the introduction of their magazine Introspective in 2006, a print and digital glossy publication that is still running today.
- Information service MutualArt.com were also early proponents of the storytailing marketing strategy: in 2008 they established an online archive containing both original articles and curated editorial content from over 250 art publications.
- Exhibition A, an art commerce site founded in 2010, also publishes a daily blog billed as “an insider’s view of the art world”.
Storytailing’s second wave
Up and coming online art businesses are now expanding the potential marketing benefits of editorial content, according to ARTINFO. Virtual auction house Paddle8, which launched its blog in 2011, features editorial content which is directly related to the site’s auctions, such as interviews with artists whose work is available to bidders through Paddle8. Additionally, the blog has also taken part in more innovative projects such as “Moving the Still”, which saw Paddle8 collaborate with Tumblr to hold an open call for an exhibition on the GIF, short for Graphics Interchange Format, a digital image format for short animated clips played on a loop. Such media content aims to “provide context and curation to works available on the site”, according to a Paddle8 press release.
Art imitating retail
Marketing techniques such as storytailing have become common in commercial areas like retail in recent years, according to Marketing Magazine. Business media advisor Grant Arnott, writing in Anthill Online, points to the success of clothing retailer Net-a-Porter, whose “digital magazine was and is core to the company’s marketing strategy“, thanks to its high quality content and interactive features, such as social media links and smartphone application. Gilt, the number one online clothing retailer in the United States, has also introduced an online magazine publishing original content and linking to purchasable items. Communications advisor MediaPad says that Gilt sourced “prominent magazine editors” from a range of established media outlets, in a move similar to Artspace’s partnership with Goldstein and Robinson, to ensure high quality media content.
Storytailing tops the search engines
Original content is increasingly valuable for online businesses such as Artspace. As Google seeks to improve its users’ experience, it has introduced updates such as 2011′s Google Panda, a search algorithm which promotes websites containing high quality information by reducing the ranking of all websites using back-linking as a form of promotion. As the search engine ranks websites containing duplicate content low in search results, while sites containing original content score highly, marketeers are advising businesses to focus their energies on producing original content if they want to maintain website traffic.
The trend for storytailing is set to continue, according to the Social Commerce Trends Report 2012 (PDF download), compiled by consumer agency Bazaarvoice. Summarised in Marketing Magazine, the report claims that brands must become media companies and “start educating, entertaining and informing”. Artspace’s magazine, with its banner promise to provide “daily art news, ideas and education”, is riding the storytailing trend.
- Asia to get dedicated online art-selling platform in April 2013 – Artshare.com press release – March 2013 – the first virtual sales platform exclusively dedicated to Asian art
- Artspace eyes global art market, names Russian collector Maria Baibakova Strategic Director – February 2013 – 27 year old Baibakova has plans to expand Artspace’s global brand
- Miami Art Week 2012 to host GIF art festival “Moving the Still” – November 2012 – a closer look at Paddle8′s work with the world’s first GIF art festival
- Auction houses grow: Can dealers compete? The Art Newspaper – August 2011 -breakdown of the ways art dealers are reinventing the traditional business model
- Online art business: Inspiration from Hong Kong gallery director Alice Zhang – July 2013 – interview with the director of the first Hong Kong gallery to develop an online buying platform
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