Magazine ad spending has declined for the last five years straight, but an iPhone application platform publicly launched today by Mountain View, Calif.-based NearbyNow may help stem the tide. The company seeks to move magazine advertising to mobile phones, and today showed off iPhone apps built by Seventeen Magazine and Runner’s World that were released earlier this summer. The two apps market products from the magazine’s editorial content, and will also feature ads purchased by brands and retailers. The Runner’s World app already displays ads from Nike.
NearbyNow offers a digital shopping service via mobile phones or the web that lets users find and reserve products they’re looking for in local brick-and-mortar stores, as well as directing users to web sites to purchase products online. The company’s iPhone platform provides a template on which publications can build mobile apps that push products used in editorial spreads or from advertising campaigns straight to users on their mobile phones.
While people have traditionally had to buy magazines in order to thumb through the pages of glossy ads, now retailers and brands can reach a larger audience by marketing their ads to people via a big-name magazine’s free mobile apps. For example, Nike paid to sponsor the “Runner’s World Shoe Shop” app, which features a shopping guide for men’s and women’s running shoes based on editorial recommendations from Runner’s World. Nike also paid for ad space within the app that promotes its latest line of running shoes, Nike Lunar Glide.
Meanwhile, the “Seventeen Fashion Finder” app takes advantage of back-to-school season and touts editor-recommended accessories and clothing, as well as features fashion picks from popular Disney star Selena Gomez. Though the app doesn’t have any ads featured on it now, expect some to pop up soon, as Seventeen plans to start selling advertisers joint print and mobile ad packages for upcoming issues.
NearbyNow, which raised $11.75 million in Series C funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners last May, says more magazine publications are set to release iPhone apps in the next few months. A recent report from Veronis Suhler Stevenson forecasts spending on mobile advertising will rise 18 percent to $1.3 billion this year. It’s unclear whether mobile advertising will be the lifesaver that will keep magazines afloat or just another way to siphon ad dollars from print.