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JCPenney Fall Shopping Guide Added to StumbleUpon

Someone who’s enjoying the JCPenney-sponsored Fall Shopping Guide added it to social-bookmarking site StumbleUpon, and 500 StumbleUpon members paid a visit to the Guide. I have to admit, I don’t know much about StumbleUpon or the usage patterns of the self-reported base of nearly 3.6 million users. But if one-tenth of a percentage of them click through to the sites listed on a given day, that says 500,000 StumbleUpon users were exposed today to a free promotion for the Guide. Maybe a full percentage of StumbleUpon users click through, which would say 50,000 of them saw a link to the Guide. Either case, thanks for the love, Stumblers!

StumbleUpon

JCPenney's Fall Shopping Guide Gaining Subscribers

We’re just a few weeks into JCPenney’s sponsorship of FM’s Fall Shopping Guide (see ChasNote 9/17/07), but today I came across an interesting stat: Among the top 5 URLs driving traffic to the Guide is Google’s RSS reader. In other words, visitors to the site like what they see, and they’re subscribing to RSS updates to the site.

FM Fall Shopping Guide

JCPenney's RSS-Powered Ad

Here’s JCPenney’s new ad creative. The 300×250 unit is running on FM’s parenting and craft sites to drive readers to the Fall Shopping Guide they’re sponsoring (see ChasNote 9/17/07). The ad updates with new headlines in real-time, each time a new article is posted to the Fall Shopping Guide site — like that Symantec ad that pulled content from their security analyst’s blog.

JCPenney RSS ad

JCPenney's Fall Shopping Guide, Powered By Real Voices

FM’s Fall Shopping Guide, sponsored by JCPenney, rolled out last week. Earlier today, I searched for “fall shopping guide” at Google. Among the 44,600,000 relevant sites Google identified, the JCPenney-sponsored Fall Shopping Guide is the 3rd result. In the #2 position is a post at Craftzine, one of the participating sites, on a page where they tell their readers about the sponsorship program. Wow, what’s going on here?!

Goog results on Fall Shopping Guide

Here’s what the Fall Shopping Guide is:

“The Federated Media Fall Shopping Guide, brought to you by JCPenney and the new Chris Madden Collection, is debuting for the 2007 season, bringing together the most influential voices in the parenting, women’s lifestyle, travel & leisure communities.The Fall Shopping Guide features authors of the best and most influential independent parenting, cooking & home accessories web sites that exist today.”

JCPenney Pioneer Post

The site aggregates editorial content from leading, independent sites affiliated with FM such as Dooce, Celebrity Baby Blog, Amalah, Parent Hacks, The Mommy Blog, Paper Napkin, Sweetney, Craftzine, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks. JCPenney doesn’t review or influence the content provided by these sites, though the sponsorship includes banner ads and product promotions for the Chris Madden line on the Fall Shopping Guide site.

If Opening Weekend is any indication, JCPenney also gets the benefit of engaged audiences that come for the third-party content, but find themselves talking about the JCPenny brand. “Giving Up My Vanity for a Laundry Room,” a post from Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, published to the site on Friday, September 14. In four days readers have posted 77 comments.

JCPenney Pioneer Comments

One reader, a fan of Pioneer Woman, gives JCPenney full credit for the site:

“I never knew JC Penney even had a blog. But even moreso, I never dreamed I’d be reading it. And yet here I am. And there you are with your lime green countertop. And I’m going to have to subscribe to the dang thang to get the rest of the story. Darn you Ree.”

Another:

“As if I don’t spend enough time reading Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and The Pioneer Woman Cooks, now I’ll be checking in here regularly. Clearly, less sleep is the only answer!”

And:

“Ree, your writing is like crack cocaine to me (or how I imagine it would be anyway.) Last spring I stumbled upon your blog-I think it was the chocolate cake recipe before your ‘cooks’ site came along, started reading previous posts, and unless we’re camping in the woods away from internet connections, I MUST read it everyday. At least it’s a healthy addiction-provided I don’t cook your recipes every day. Thanks for all you put into it for all of us strange people who just can’t get enough of what you and your family are up to. I can’t wait to hear the solution to the vanity delimma!”

And:

“I am right there with OMSH. You’ve done it again Ree…and all of your faithfuls are following you. JC Penney has no idea what they have gotten themselves into do they?”

Or maybe — just maybe! — they do. By leaving the content decisions to established third-party authors, they allow the “sponsored” site to maintain the authenticity and active audience engagement that makes the participating sites themselves successful. Because the Fall Shopping Guide site assembles editorial (not advertorial) content, several authors, including those at Craftzine, invited their readers to have a look. When highly-influential, highly-trusted sites feel a sense of ownership over the project, it’s a winning formula for the marketer.

The FM team that built out this program includes James Gross, Sam Kahn, Matt Jessell and Pamela Parker. More on them here.

UPDATE 10/2/07: We’re just a few weeks into JCPenney’s sponsorship of FM’s Fall Shopping Guide, but today I came across an interesting stat: Among the top 5 URLs driving traffic to the Guide is Google’s RSS reader. In other words, visitors to the site like what they see, and they’re subscribing to RSS updates to the site.

UPDATE 10/4/07: Someone who’s enjoying the JCPenney-sponsored Fall Shopping Guide added it to social-bookmarking site StumbleUpon, and 500 StumbleUpon members paid a visit to the Guide. I have to admit, I don’t know much about StumbleUpon or the usage patterns of the self-reported base of nearly 3.6 million users. But if one-tenth of a percentage of them click through to the sites listed on a given day, that says 500,000 StumbleUpon users were exposed today to a free promotion for the Guide. Maybe a full percentage of StumbleUpon users click through, which would say 50,000 of them saw a link to the Guide. Either case, thanks for the love, Stumblers!

UPDATE 12/18/07: Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion applauds JCPenney’s Fall Shopping Guide sponsorship as a model for an emerging trend in digital media: brands “investing in creating their own content.”