The metrics of it all

In this month's Toro, inserted somewhere after the story on hunky Canadian heartthrob Scott Speedman, is Home Depot's 2005 Lawn and Garden Power Equipment Guide: page after page of all the gadgety outdoor guy stuff any 25-49 man would get giddy over.

In this month’s Toro, inserted somewhere after the story on hunky Canadian heartthrob Scott Speedman, is Home Depot’s 2005 Lawn and Garden Power Equipment Guide: page after page of all the gadgety outdoor guy stuff any 25-49 man would get giddy over.

Why Toro? Seems in these times of fragmentation and segmentation, mini-mags within magazines and splashy advertorials are quietly becoming the savvy medium to reach the very discerning consumer. But Home Depot is taking that one step further: using the medium as a way to track, and support its online and direct telephone sales.

‘What we did was take some of our core categories, where we have a broad selection of products that many customers don’t know the Home Depot has, and really pull them out so that frankly, we can compete against the ‘specialists,” says Pat Wilkinson, Home Depot Canada’s director of marketing, referring to Williams-Sonoma and the like.

Even more interesting is that depending on the magazine, (Canadian House and Home, Chatelaine and Style at Home, for example), Canadians will find landscaping, kitchen and bath, and lighting and ceiling guides lodged between its pages. (Initiative Media is the chain’s media buyer.)

Wilkinson says this approach, which they used for the first time last spring, is purposely narrow and very targeted, and will run in conjunction with the broader mass marketing the home renovation giant already uses. ‘The readers of those core magazines are the sweet spots for those particular categories. So we targeted the buy from both a calendar perspective and an editorial [one].’

But those guides merely highlight products. Home Depot’s more aspirational publications, with far more colour and concept – much like a highbrow catalogue – are also scheduled to appear in magazines this season. Wilkinson says the décor-themed and outdoor living magazines, with a distribution of about a million copies each, will feature products consumers can only purchase online or through direct telephone sales. It’s an effort, she says, that will drive sales in those areas of the business, and better yet, is a way to track sales and adjust the chain’s online product mix based on customer demand. ‘Using magazines as a distribution methodology has been very effective for us.’

Over in April’s Fashion magazine L’Oréal Professional has splurged on a glitzy 36-page supplement. Distributed in polybags to the magazine’s subscription base (about 147,000, according to 2004 PMB numbers) as well as 10,000 copies to the top 100 salons across the country, it’s a new endeavour for the cosmetics giant here in Canada, imported from its Paris flagship.

Glossy and highly targeted, it’s designed in Fashion magazine’s recognizable format with the L’Oreal Professional banner tucked, rather subtly, at the bottom of the cover. Inside, the first half of the content is fun and flashy, very much like the magazine itself, with copy written by its editorial team about the top new looks, models and accessories for spring 2005.

The second half of the supplement is devoted to L’Oréal Professional’s advertorial content. The products are used in hair salons across the country, so the advertorial features some of those stylists as well as their looks for the season. A listing of salons and contact details is also included.

‘We really like this,’ Sunni Boot, president of Toronto-based Zenith Optimedia, says. ‘We like that it combines, very uniquely, editorial and advertorial, which is increasingly important for [brands] like the L’Oreal Professional division.’

Bill Dermitis, L’Oreal Professional’s marketing director, is currently in talks with Fashion execs to measure the readership of the supplement by survey. But anecdotal comments have already been numerous and positive. ‘The reaction from the hairdressing industry has been phenomenal,’ he says.

‘Media buying has changed in recent years for the better,’ Boot adds. ‘We’re moving significantly from just looking for impressions to looking for attention.’

Gary Garland, the president of industry association Magazines Canada, based in Toronto, says the magazine insert has taken on a whole new importance for advertisers wanting to ‘put themselves front and centre.’ ‘It’s an attention grabber,’ he says. Better yet, these inserts have long life, says Doner Canada’s Theresa Treutler, winding up on coffee tables or in magazine racks in people’s homes for an indefinite amount of time. ‘That’s tough to replicate on the broadcast medium.’

This kind of partnership is becoming more common, says Treutler, especially as magazine staff are much more open to finding solutions tailored to each marketer – which can include metrics to track results.