Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with NearbyNow CEO Scott Dunlap about its new Seventeen Magazine and Runner’s World iPhone apps. You may remember, the company powers the app for Lucky Magazine — a nice tool that lets magazine readers find out where they can shop locally for clothes & accessories featured in the magazine (see past post).
These new apps have much of the same functionality with a few tweaks and of course different branding. One of the cool things about the app is the ability for users to suggest items to a friend. This generates an email that the recipient can open and click a link to find it near them. So the location targeting features essentially become portable and move beyond the original user’s location.
In addition to that, NearbyNow is showing some strong performance metrics so far — especially among the “fashion forward” iPhone user demographic. Here are some thoughts directly from Dunlap, including some interesting data points from existing usage, and some predictions of what’s to come (his emphasis noted):
— We’re still showing that 17x more shoppers prefer to find local than buy online with an iPhone. This is how many people track down their exact size and color at a store near them vs clicking through to an online site. A very powerful statistic.
— The NearbyNow iPhone Platform allows any magazine, brand, or retailer to get an iPhone App up and running with live-updated content (and driving to online and in-store channels) in as little as three weeks, with no coding. I think this could lower the barriers to entry for a lot of folks.
— The data is showing that advertisers who buy a combined print and mobile ad package (so their ad shows up in the magazine as well as in the mobile application) show higher lift to revenue than mobile-only ads. I think this shows that magazines still have some staying power.
— My prediction, based on the growth of these Apps, is that most of these magazines will have more iPhone subscribers than magazine subscribers within six months. That’s pretty powerful if you think about it. Then again, magazines are inherently a mobile media so it seems like a good fit. One subtle thing about announcing Seventeen and Runner’s World is that we now have Conde Nast, Hearst, and Rodale – three of the big five publishing co’s – all in on the game. Time, Inc. has already made some iPhone investments (MyRecipes is the #2 lifestyle app, and does well to boost subscribers for their magazine) and Meredith recently announced an investment in a mobile developer. Sounds like a industry in transition.
Stepping back, this is the company’s second dip into the magazine world — likely an area of growth, as Dunlap suggests. As we pointed out before, this is a good way to maintain engagement with a user beyond the initial impression. It enables more “continuity” with the user, down the funnel, to not only drive or influence conversions, but more effectively track them. This should be a selling point, or at least a retention tool, for magazine advertisers.
For all these reasons, it will (or at least it should) be an area of innovation for struggling print media. If Dunlap’s prediction is right that these magazines will see more iPhone subscribers than magazine subscribers, it’s a potential distribution point others shouldn’t ignore.