The startup lets e-commerce sites mimic gorgeous magazine layouts without the need for a graphic designer
Have you ever browsed a fashion magazine? You may be surprised to learn that over 50 percent of editorial content in most fashion magazines features advertisers – or you may be surprised that it’s only 50 percent. This is no coincidence: We are more likely to read and buy products if they are presented as editorial content rather than straight-up ads.
In comes Styla, a Berlin-based content marketing startup that announced on Wednesday that it raised a €2.5M seed funding round led by Swiss VC Redalpine Venture Partners. Prominent investors and industry experts, including Groupe Arnault, the company behind Louis Vuitton, and angel investor Christophe Maire, contributed to the round.
Styla allows any run-of-the-mill e-commerce site to create gorgeous magazine-style layouts automatically, without hiring graphic designers. Users can just upload their photos, videos and written content, and Styla generates a magazine layout in minutes.
Each magazine item has a discreet link to the e-commerce platform where the item can be purchased, making all products displayed directly shoppable from within the magazine. According to Styla, these features lead to a 36% higher sales conversion rate and increase customers’ average time on site to 4.5 minutes. Such results attracted Styla clients Grazia magazine, Mavi jeans and Rocket Internet companies Lamoda and Zalora, among others.
The company was lunched in 2012 by two experienced entrepreneurs, Philipp Rogge and Franz Riedl. Peter Niederhauser, Managing Director of Redalpine Venture Partners, commented in a statement, “In just two years, the team at Styla have developed a disruptive technology that has the potential to become the e-global standard for content commerce. Such outstanding success in such a young company made Styla the ideal investment for Redalpine.”
Additional investors include Groupe Arnault, the controlling shareholder of LVMH, which owns brands Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Fendi, and founding investor Atlantic Labs, lead by business angel Christophe Maire. Cherry Ventures, the fund run by Zalando/Groupon/Quandoo entrepreneurs, and German VC Westtech Ventures, also contributed to the round.
Planting the seeds of its own destruction
Forgive the skepticism, but how likely is it that Styla will become the “global standard for content commerce,” in the words of its investor?
If you think about it, native advertising works to the extent that it can slip past people’s defenses. It’s the reason that you barely notice banner ads or billboards on the highway anymore and the reason that native advertising is all the rage. Once people pick up on the fact that a certain ad format is an ad, they tend to tune it out, or block it (69 percent of the population favor ad blockers).
In its press release, Styla cites a study by the American Marketing Association showing that people browsing in magazines versus classic web shops have a 500% higher purchase intent. That’s an amazing statistic, but if products like Styla are too successful, then magazine layouts could go the way of banner ads and get ignored. After all, the very first banner ad had a 44 percent click-through rate.
So how long till gorgeous magazine layouts get old? Well, the print magazine format had a pretty good run.