Flip Or Bust? FlipGloss Debuts Glossy Digital Photo Magazine

FlipGloss, a Forbes Media-funded digital magazine focused purely on editorial and advertising photo content, has launched the beta version of its site. Featuring “lifestyle” based photography focused on fashion, design and travel, FlipGloss wants to combine search engine capabilities with the experience of flipping through photo content of a magazine.

Users actually click and “flip” through glossy photos of models wearing designer clothes, the vistas of the world’s premiere five star hotels, and beautiful home amenities, like posh swimming pools and custom-design kitchens. Using what FlipGloss calls “Flip, Hover, Discover” navigation, users can click on their objects of interest to find out where to purchase an item or even be led to an advertiser’s website. There is a seamless integration of editorial content and advertising, which makes editorial images nearly indistinguishable from advertisements. For example, images from a Forbes’ Coolest Hotels editorial feature look similar to images used as advertisements for luxury hotels.

Founded by former Yahoo! digital music executives, FlipGloss has a host of prominent advisors, including Marc Bodnick from Elevation Partners, former Forbes publisher Jim Berrian, and the founders of Launch.com, Dave Goldberg and Bob Roback. FlipGloss was fully funded by Forbes Media but is not considered a subsidiary of the media group.

FlipGloss’s editorial competitors are magazines with online photo content. While online magazines provide in-depth editorial writing along with photos, FlipGloss nearly eliminates written content. Although FlipGloss’s photo-advertising platform is unique, its search function competes with Google. FlipGloss seems more likely to be a destination for those who like to browse high-quality imagery (and perhaps stumble upon a purchase), whereas Google would likely be the destination for those who begin their internet search with an intended purchase in mind. In that light, I have to wonder whether FlipGloss will be able to scale mass traffic to the site. Also, FlipGloss claims its focus is on “lifestyle” products and goods, though nearly every item I discovered could easily be categorized as a “luxury” good. The images are beautiful, but in this economy, Gucci’s and Louis Vuitton’s price tags don’t resonate quite like they used to.