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Today I had the chance to speak with Scott Dunlap, CEO of NearbyNow, which has an interesting model for bringing inventory data online to drive offline conversions. There is very little I can say at this point because of embargoed information, but the company is worth checking out.

There are other companies that play in this space that we’ve written about extensively, including StepUp, ShopLocal and Yokel, but NearbyNow will likely exist as coopetition to these players. In other words it will be another player in this space to push the idea onto the marketplace that online inventory data can be a valuable form of marketing. However, it will address businesses that fall somewhere between big-box advertisers (ShopLocal’s sweet spot) and individually owned small businesses (where StepUp primarily plays).

These existing players have served to establish the idea of online inventory as a valuable marketing vehicle among advertisers — something that will continue to help each company build its database of inventory content. In a broader sense, Google has helped in ad sales efforts by pushing forward the adoption curve of online advertising among SMEs, according to Dunlap. Online inventory has a lot of room to grow and some exciting potential in real time inventory data, online partnerships and most of all mobile.

More can be gleaned from NearbyNow’s Web site, and we’ll provide greater detail about the company and its growth opportunities on the blog next week and in the next issue of Local Media Journal.

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