Time Warner StyleFeederIn mid-December 2009 the ShareASale affiliate network announced the winners of its 2009 Performance Awards.
The “Exceptional Affiliate” prize went to a promising affiliate
marketing company operating out of Cambridge, Massachusetts:
StyleFeeder. A month later, the site was bought by
Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the U.S.

The company describes itself in the following way:

“StyleFeeder is a personal shopping engine that learns your style
and helps you shop for apparel, accessories, shoes, furniture, home
goods, jewelry, gadgets. Think of us like a Pandora or LastFM for
shopping, or a personal stylist who shops the web on your behalf.

We quickly learn your style so that every search on our site is personalized, returning products in your predicted order of preference.
We’ll recommend products we think you’ll love, and even help you find
your StyleTwins across the globe. We search thousands of stores and
over 14 million products to find things that match your style… [my italics]

An excellent concept, and certainly reminiscent of a post stressing the importance of personalization of offers that affiliates display to their sites’ visitors.

And no, it’s no coincidence that this particular company is located in the home city
of Harvard University. Two of StyleFeeder’s employees, as well as two
of the company’s advisers, are Harvard’s graduates. The brilliant team of people, their brilliant concept, and the success they have achieved in slightly over 3 years [see original press release here]
of operating in the online space — all of this has attracted some
serious interest from one of the world’s largest media conglomerates.

InternetNews.com writes:

Marking a significant entrée into e-commerce, magazine publisher Time Inc. has acquired StyleFeeder…

In the third quarter of 2009, Time Warner’s publishing division,
which includes Time Inc., saw its ad revenue drop 22 percent, or $129
million, from the same quarter last year, while subscription revenues
fell 13 percent, or $49 million, over the same period.

The acquisition of StyleFeeder to build out a fledgling e-commerce
business aims to carve out an additional source of revenue for the
struggling division.

So, Time Warner has acquired a successful affiliate marketer in an effort to shore up their dropping revenues.

What are the plans for the nearest future, and cost of the deal?

The Wall Street Journal offers a sneak peak:

Time Inc. expects StyleFeeder to be laced throughout the
Web site of its fashion magazine InStyle, a key brand inside a group of
magazines, including People, that are highly regarded by Time Warner
executives. Time Inc. said StyleFeeder also could be woven into Web
sites of other brands, including Essence and People en Espanol.

Time Inc. didn’t disclose the price of the deal, which is expected
to be announced as early as Tuesday, but a person familiar with the
matter said it was “well into eight figures.”

“With more than 1 million registered members and 600,000 unique
visitors monthly,” StyleFeeder is expected to become a major source of
power boost for the Web site of one of its magazines, InStyle” [source]. With the price of the deal being “well into eight figures”, Time
Warner obviously believes in the future of affiliate marketing, at least in the contexts of social and comparison shopping.