September 9, 2011, 12:42 PM

Mark Cuban gives his blessing to the courtship of e-commerce and magazines

JungleCents, backed by the billionaire investor, offers online discounts at

Lead Photo

Mark Cuban is backing an online deal venture.

Billionaire Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team and an occasional TV actor who plays himself on the HBO series “Entourage,” is betting on the success of two of the hottest trends in e-commerce: the mingling of online retail with magazines, and the popularity of web discounts and deals.

Cuban is an investor in JungleCents, a nearly year-old provider of online discounts. It has run two voucher offers on AskMen, an online men’s fashion and lifestyle magazine launched more than a decade ago and which claims 15 million monthly readers; a third offer is scheduled for Monday. “I think you will see this trend continue with the big change being the closer integration of video [with retail offers],” Cuban tells Internet Retailer about the mingling of editorial content and e-commerce. 

One recent JungleCents offer on AskMen enabled consumers to spend $48 for $100 worth of merchandise at online men’s apparel retailer Bonobos. “We loved the legacy of AskMen, and their audience was a great fit for us,” says Ryan Urban, the retailer’s head of customer acquisition. “We’ve learned to be very selective with who provides the best editorial experience, and hold strong about giving too much of a deal.” As to the success of the offering, Urban would say only that average order values compared favorably with other such deals the retailer has run outside of AskMen.

JungleCents takes a percentage of revenue generated by such deals, says Sameer Mehta, the company’s CEO and co-founder; AskMen also takes a percentage. JungleCents also offers deals through its own site. Another recent deal, now sold out, offered $10 toward a purchase at members-only site Beyond the Rack for $3; Beyond the Rack is No. 191 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

AskMen is not the only magazine looking for a boost from e-commerce on its web pages. Last month, for instance,, a magazine scheduled to debut on Oct. 31 and published by a unit of Condé Nast Publications, said it would sell online items from the collections of New York fashion designers. Meanwhile, e-retailers have been hiring former magazine editors to create content that appeals to shoppers; the most notable recent example is high-end flash-sale site Gilt Groupe Inc., No. 49 in the Top 500 Guide, which employs a former writer along with other magazine veterans.  And along with seemingly every company under the sun, media firms have in turn embraced the daily deal and online discount model; Gannett Co. Inc. and The New York Times Co. are among the largest such companies to offer deals on their news web sites.

Yet JungleCents is trying to emerge as an online discount force as consumers show signs of boredom with the wider web deal model. Traffic to the more than 50 daily deal sites tracked by Experian Hitwise was down 25% as of late August from its peak in the second week of June. Groupon’s traffic had fallen nearly 50% since the second week of June. Additionally, Facebook recently killed its Groupon-life offering, Deals, though the mobile version remains live.

Such developments raise the pressure on JungleCents to come up with eye-catching offers. “There are only so many deals that will get consumers’ attention, so we have to continue to raise the bar and put together compelling deals that our audiences want,” Cuban says. “Consumers will always pay attention to unique, differentiated deals.”

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