When James Nord was account director at Product of the Year, "I kept getting emails from people who worked at brands, asking which bloggers they should work with. Like, 'I need five menswear bloggers in Chicago,' or, 'I need five personal-style bloggers in San Francisco,'" he recalled. "It felt like it was a really inefficient way to run a marketplace."
Mr. Nord, a photographer and blogger, thought he had a better means to help brands sift through bloggers to target with advertising, sponsored content and gifting. Along with Holly Stair, a social-media manager, and Rich Tong, Tumblr's former fashion director, he developed Fohr Card, which aims to bring brands a comprehensive survey of the fashion blogosphere.
Starting at $5,000 for an annual membership—larger companies and agencies pay more—brands can access Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google Analytics stats for more than 1,800 fashion and beauty bloggers. The tool allows users to sort by region, traffic on a particular platform, or category. (Categories include DIY, nail art and menswear.) But most importantly, it eliminates numbers-fudging by exposing typically private Tumblr and Google Analytics figures.
Fohr Card's brand launch partners included Puma and Oscar de la Renta. Another strategic partner is KCD, the fashion public-relations agency with clients including Balmain, Jason Wu and Victoria's Secret.
"We've always worked with different databases and tracking services," said Danielle McGrory, digital-publicity director at KCD, "but a lot of these larger services don't get down to the personal bloggers. The data completely varied—there was no metric, nothing everyone in the industry had agreed upon. With Fohr Card, we're able to have the same numerical information that we already have for mass websites. It's a blogger media kit."
Days after Fohr Card's launch, Yuli Ziv, the founder of Style Coalition—a blogger network that works closely with Hearst Digital to fulfill ad campaigns—announced the beta launch of SC Influencer Exchange. At first glance, the tool seems similar to Fohr Card, but only features bloggers in the Style Coalition network. There are 87 bloggers in the SCX, with a total reach of 10.8 million monthly unique users and 32.8 million monthly page views.
While Fohr Card will make money via membership fees—potentially charging for data reports in the distant future—SCX allows brands to actually book campaigns within the platform, with a commission going to the Style Coalition. "We've seen recently that the market has really changed, with companies like Federated Media shutting down their direct-sales department," said Ms. Ziv, who launched Style Coalition in 2008.
It's difficult to believe that Fohr Card will not eventually move into booking campaigns as well, but Mr. Nord insists it is looking for scale, not deep brand relationships. "For us, it's much more scalable than an agency. We can make this a global tool immediately," he said. "There are plans to eventually recruit food, travel and mommy bloggers, among others.
Thus far, both platforms are generating interest from big brands and bloggers alike. But will it last? "I personally don't have any interest in seeing things ranked based on follower count instead of talent," says Chris Black, a marketing consultant whose client roster includes Gilt Groupe and New Balance. "Big numbers don't always equal engaged users."