Marie Claire Edit, an aggregated shopping platform from the eponymous women’s magazine, aims to help readers shop the trends picked out by editors, a development that raises some interesting questions for the magazine industry.

The publisher describes the new product as a “unique, first-in-class online fashion aggregator platform”, through which the magazine’s editors will curate from designer, through high-street, through to online-only brands like ASOS and Net-a-Porter. Editor Trish Halpin describes the product as “the natural next step in the shopping journey of our audience of influential women”.

According to Digiday, the site will also host paid advertising similar to that on the core Marie Claire site. The Edit site was developed to boost e-commerce revenue through the potency of the editorial name, but in time, the publisher says it plans to introduce more advanced ad targeting once it has collected more audience data.

Marie Claire’s head of fashion affiliates told Digiday that the move is part of a “360-degree approach,” in which affiliate, advertising, and editorial can maintain a “brand identity in-keeping with our strength of engaging audiences. We’ve developed new touchpoints for purchase and ad formats to sell into.”

The strategy will have to strike several points of balance: maintaining editorial tone while creating enough difference for a separate site to make sense to users; the theory is that Edit will allow the company to sell more but to maintain a slick experience on the main MC site, keeping affiliate links to a minimum.

“The job we do as magazines is to inspire, curate, edit, recommend and help our readers and customers make choices,” said Marie Claire UK managing director Justine Southall in comments to Retail Gazette.

In the US, BuzzFeed drew attention from an industry watchdog that took issue with the publisher’s copy surrounding an affiliate link to a St. Ives face cream containing statements that were difficult to substantiate. Eventually, the National Advertising Division – a unit of the Better Business Bureau – agreed with the publisher that the “product at issue was chosen for its recommendation list by editorial staff without the input of business staff regarding the potential for affiliate link revenue”.

Speaking to MediaPost with regard to the NAD case, the advertising lawyer Terri Seligman, of the firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, noted that the decision gave publishers important guidance on this brave new world.

“If you’re a publisher and want to ensure that your editorial content is always considered as such, even if monetized with affiliate links, or if you’re a brand and want to ensure that the editorial content you’re sponsoring or advertising against is not treated as your advertising, especially if you’re providing affiliate revenue to a publisher, make sure to implement policies and practices that demonstrate and support the traditional separation of ‘church and state,’” she said.

From the consumer perspective, it is well known that customers are savvier than ever about new advertising opportunities, as a 2017 Kantar media’s Dimension report showed, “Trying to fool the consumer by passing these ads off as objective in some way is unlikely to succeed”. Moreover, if a publisher surrenders its credibility, it sheds the value of its advertising.

Sourced from Marie Claire, Digiday, Retail Gazette, BuzzFeed, MediaPost, CNBC/Kantar; additional content by WARC staff