In September 2017, Nylon Magazine shuttered its print publication in favor of a digital-only strategy. Since then, the previously described “edgy” music magazine has increasingly leaned on beauty content to help diversify its revenue streams and strengthen its editorial voice to highlight its more inclusive and progressive tone.
As widely reported at the time of its shift to digital, Nylon has attempted to capitalize on its young female audience with video, an influencer program and an internal creative agency, Nylon Studios. After being founded in 1999, the publication went through significant layoffs over the years and was sold in 2014 before merging with FashionIndie.com; a year later, Nylon Guys became digital-only and more layoffs followed. Now that the most recent dust has settled, the magazine is turning to new digital strategies. In beauty, specifically, it has turned to affiliate links, building out events like its Beauty Awards and creating more inclusive content, and it’s now looking at how augmented reality could bolster the business and editorial content. Overall, the publication currently sees 1.3 million monthly uniques and plans to reach between two to three million by the end of the year, according to Evan Luzzatto, president of Nylon — that’s compared to 1.15 million in 2017, according to comScore data. For the beauty vertical specifically, the website experienced a 10.4 percent year-over-year increase in unique views as of August.
“[Beauty] is a core piece of what our rabid audience expects,” Luzzatto said.
After the shuttering of the print publication, Gabrielle Korn, previously the digital editor-in-chief, became the only editor-in-chief. She launched monthly digital magazine issues, with beauty taking over the July and August issues, while music issues were shifted to align with the music festival season. Nylon also shuttered its own e-commerce store in December after officially establishing an affiliate-link program in November. Beauty has been the most lucrative vertical, compared to fashion or accessories, Luzzatto said, but declined to specify further.
“We shuttered [Nylon Shop] in favor of an affiliate strategy in order to allow writers to mention all products they wanted. It’s a lower cost and [less] risky e-commerce strategy for Nylon.”
In a fraught media landscape, other publications have tried to add to their revenue through beauty with subscription boxes, like Allure and Cosmopolitan U.K., or modernize their publication’s editorial strategy through more inclusive beauty content, like Glamour U.K. Affiliate-link marketing has also become increasingly popular among publishers like Byrdie, WhoWhatWear, TheCut, Refinery29 and Popsugar, which are trying to diversify their revenue sources and become less dependent on online advertising. According to Nylon’s media kit, its audience is also more than seven times more likely to purchase fragrances compared to readers of competing publications like WhoWhatWear and PopSugar, almost four times more likely to purchase cosmetics compared to competitors, and over three times more likely to purchase skin care compared to competitors.
Editorially, the direction of the beauty content has also changed in order to strike a modern tone of inclusivity. This month, Nylon’s first Beauty Hitlist was published, which awarded the best products launched in the previous 12 months across 81 different categories, including skin care, hair care, makeup and nails. Following this, the magazine also had its first Beauty Awards party this month; although it was invite-only, the party went beyond Nylon employees to include sponsorships, influencers and dozens of invitees. The magazine is currently exploring how to monetize events — for example, the annual Pride party in June was opened up to the public as a ticketed event — without diluting the brand credibility.
“Selling tickets changes the event, but there is the dual-revenue stream you open up,” Luzzato said.
The publication will build out its collection of data for website visitors for the next six to 12 months in order to better inform the affiliate-link business, as well as increase its licensing of the Nylon brand for international publications and its Nylon beauty seal — similar to Allure’s Best of Beauty. The publication is also planning a website relaunch in the fourth quarter and is currently discussing how augmented reality could be used for beauty content.
“For me, AR is an event experience and something we can add on to things. In terms of storytelling in beauty [coverage], people are looking at us as experts, so it needs to feel personalized,” Korn said.
And although beauty has always been a core vertical, it does not have a historical role of being what sets the publication apart, compared to its music coverage. The push to be more beauty-centric — with an authentic and inclusive voice (following the playbooks of fellow publications like Elle and Out), compared to its earlier days of being indie and alternative — is sure to be a balancing act.
“Music will always be core to our brand. [We were] basically the only publication for women with a strong focus [on music], but readers are more interested in beauty,” Korn said.