OpenSky, the e-commerce site where celebrities including Tom Colicchio and Alicia Silverstone recommend products to consumers who follow them, has added Dwell magazine to its roster of "curators."
OpenSky, which said last month that it had raised $30 million in fresh investment capital, says it has accumulated 750,000 members since its current iteration arrived in April. It previously helped bloggers and others curate stores on their own content sites, but decided that building a single site devoted to shopping would yield more members and sales.
"We learned two things: One, when you're consumer content in a content environment, you don't have your credit card in hand," said founder and CEO John Caplan, who was previously CEO of Ford Models and president at About Networks before that . "You may be inspired but you're not actually going to complete the transaction in that environment. The second thing we learned is that there is no network effect when you have 5,000 content creators building their own stores. On OpenSky today there are tremendous network effects."
Now Dwell magazine is becoming the first traditional publisher to join the ranks of celebrities endorsing -- and sharing in any profits that result.
Mr. Caplan said OpenSky is likely to add more media partners endorsing products. "Joining a commerce network is a whole lot better way for a media property to enter commerce than for them to hang a store off their content site," he said.
Magazine publishers have been increasingly pursuing various e-commerce strategies. Hearst on Monday announced a partnership with GiftingGrace.com that will see editors from magazines starting with O, The Oprah Magazine and Good Housekeeping recommending products there.
Dwell has explored different approaches to e-commerce over the last few years, according to Michela O' Connor Abrams, president of Dwell Media. "We've dabbled with Gilt and a couple of others. We decided to go with OpenSky because I love the model where OpenSky celebrates brands that already exist, already have a community and can benefit from each other."
There is no advertising on OpenSky, but marketers regularly send samples in the hope that a curator might recommend their products, according to Mr. Caplan. "Brands are aggressively trying to get the talent to like the stuff they make, just like brands are trying to get the editors of magazines to cover the products they make," he said.
Dwell's OpenSky feed will endorse products whether or not they've been advertised in the magazine, but it will also feature advertisers who are interested.
"I'm putting out a letter to every single advertising partner we have, and have had over the past few years, letting them know we're building this," Ms. Abrams said. "We would love them to let us know if they're interested."
With the exception of the occasional advertiser such as Lumber Liquidators, it's hard to think of a Dwell advertiser that wouldn't be appropriate for Dwell to recommend on OpenSky, Ms. Abrams said.
OpenSky attracted 271,000 unique visitors in October, 644,000 in September, 520,000 in August and 287,000 in July, according to ComScore.