New York Times tests niche mobile strategy with new fashion app

The New York Times launched an iPad app dedicated to style and fashion content this week, part of an experimental strategy to build apps around niche topics.

NYTimes The Collection will be free through the end of the year, with new content daily, according to Women’s Wear Daily. Times product management executive director M.Z. Goodman told WWD’s John Koblin the app is “one of our first forays into what we think of as vertical app strategy. What can we do with all the content we produce that might stand alone well? It’s sort of an experiment.”

This seems like a promising strategy that benefits the Times and its readers in three important areas.

Audience. We have enough experience with Web content to know that digital audiences cluster most strongly around niche interests. The biggest obstacle is whether a publisher has enough content to sustain a niche. In this case, the Times can compile fashion coverage from its Thursday and Sunday Style sections, T Magazine, The Moment blog and the International Herald Tribune.

The Collection (above) employs a different design than the standard “Fashion & Style” section in the main New York Times iPad app (below).

Experience. The main NYTimes for iPad app has a Fashion & Style section among 28 other categories, but each content section looks the same. The Collection is entirely different — “a visual playground” where fashion photos take center stage and the headlines and other text submerge. The luxe design and navigation make a fashion-conscious person feel fashionable. Niche apps let publishers design experiences to suit niche audiences.

Advertising. Some large advertisers, like Coca Cola, want to advertise everywhere, all the time. But most are interested in reaching a specific audience. An app with a niche audience and tailored user experience is easier to sell to an advertiser or sponsor who wants to reach that audience. Some articles in The Collection app, for example, carry ads for Michael Kors jewelry or a $2,600 handbag.

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