FT Targets Luxury Advertisers With HowToSpendIt.com Spin-Off

If anyone can charge for content, perhaps it’s How To Spend It, the monthly magazine for high earners that comes inside the FT Weekend edition. But FT is going outside the paywall for a new HowToSpendIt.com site that’s targeting big-spending luxury advertisers, starting Saturday.

Right now, the mag – which review yachts, mansions, haute couture and sports cars – has a rudimentary presence on FT.com: a clumsy digital edition page-turner that precisely reproduces the publication’s photo-heavy pages.

But the proper spin-off at a separate site, which comes on How To Spend It’s fifteenth anniversary, will try out new web ad formats the publisher hopes will satisfy advertisers just as much as those sumptious shots of jewellery and safaris that appear in print, the site’s commercial head Dom Moseley told me…

“How do we translate it online? That’s why we’ve gone for a standalone approach,” Moseley said. “What do luxury advertisers really want online? We have quite a lot of learnings from FT.com. Luxury goods brands spend a lot of money on large-format, photography-led ads in print; so do we want large-format advertising positions on the site?

“There will be no ads on the homepage but, as you click through, we will serve a large-format ad that will be capped to one per user session – a little bit like being inside the cover of a magazine.”

HowToSpendIt.com will also bridge the gap between editorial and advertising. Some videos will carry a carousel of sponsored products and the site will deploy “brand hubs” – what Moseley calls “very rich microsites, an opportunity for brands to put content on the site“. But these will be “clearly marked”. “If you read the magazine, advertising is part of the experience,” Moseley says.

The magazine already has 17 editorial staff and has hired another four for the site. Print content will be duplicated online, along with additional, online-only material, like exclusive web columns. And material will be published online before on paper, Moseley said.

Keeping How To Spend It free may seem contrary to the general view at the FT, which has been aggressively trumpeting its paid-content strategy, but, though total UK ad spend has crashed 16.6 percent from last year (IAB UK), the luxury end may hold up better – at least, that’s the theory.

“We beleve in the paid-for model,” Moseley adds. “At the moment, the view is it’s free-to-air – but we haven’t made a final decision going forward.” So let’s see whether luxury brands will buy online, where conventional ads are traditionally considered cheaper.

“Brands say ‘don’t give us the banner, we really want to brand‘,” Moseley says. “We launched How To Spend It 15 years ago coming out of a slowdown, and here we are again. Next year, there will be an extra print edition, too, so we continue to invest.”