As consumers flock to the mobile platform, advertisers are adjusting their strategies to capture the attention of people on their most trusted personal computing device. Tablets and smartphones represent the biggest opportunity and challenge for fashion marketers -- mobile has our attention, but the ad industry hasn't yet found a way to deliver ads that work due to small screen sizes and nascent technologies.
For fashion brands, mobile is where native advertising may make the most sense.
One company Crowdstar aims to inject product placements into apps by combining high-end fashion, with shopping and gamification. Today, the company announced the launch of its new app Covet Fashion that incorporates products from real luxury apparel brands like: DKNY, Rebecca Minkoff, Joie, Halston Heritage, Dannijo, Torn by Ronny Kobo and Hudson. A big part of what Covet Fashion is aiming to do is have other players judge your fashion sense. According to Crowdstar, this is the first shopping app that incorporates gaming elements like single or multi-player styling challenges where people use virtual currency to purchase virtual clothing to assemble hot online looks.
As an example, a styling challenge could be an online contest around the Hamptons White Party, where people are asked to put together a head-to-toe ensemble and submit it online. The community then votes and then a winner is selected or if it is an event hosted by celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, she will do the judging and leave a personal note about the wining look. Brands win by getting people to interact with and browse through their fashion collections.
This month, Crowdstar secured $12M in funding according to TechCrunch, and will use its latest round to build more apps catered to tablet users.
"Tablet sales will exceed laptop sales this year and you have to approach the platform differently than the web experience," said Blair Ethington, VP of Studios at Crowdstar. "It's not feasible for each brand to each have their own app, so there needs an aggregated experience such as this to bring value at scale to the consumer. Our new app Covet Fashion blends the virtual and real-world shopping experience."
As Mary Meeker presented at the D conference last month, advertising spend is now significantly less than time spent and advertisers will be working hard to equalize this discrepancy. Ethington believes it is about targeting people where they are spending their time with the right blend of gamification and product placement.
Ethington added, "The apps we have created before have been fashion based, but now we are replacing them with branded clothes with links to that brand's website. On average, our 30 million mobile users come back 5-10 times/day and engage 30 minutes each day."
Brands aren't the only fashion players looking to tap into the mobile and tablet audiences -- industry veterans and taste makers are hoping to extend their reach to millions of new fans. The Covet Fashion platform allows fashion authorities like Rachel Zoe to develop interactive content including styling new looks and outfits within articles that users can save, share, re-style and directly purchase from the app. Zoe and other contributors will also be able to curate custom events -- creating style challenges where users can submit looks to the fashion community.
"We take it one step further, so rather than just deciding what individual pieces they like, users can discover how those pieces can be worn in the app or incorporate them into their real life wardrobe," explains Jeffrey Tseng, CEO of Crowdstar, COVET Fashion's parent company. "It's like having an infinite closet of luxury fashion at your fingertips. That's what makes this a truly obsession-worthy shopping experience."