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First Flipboard used ad templates taken from print and TV. But now the mobile news reader is adding what it's calling Promoted Items, a service that lets brands distribute content inside users' personal magazines.
Brands will be able to distribute articles and videos that will be clearly labeled as promoted items, the company said in a statement. Advertisers can promote items from their brand magazines -- which are made up of content curated or produced by brands themselves -- or content from their websites. They can also promote their entire websites or brand magazines, rather than one piece of content.
Promoted Items will also let advertisers ask users to take specific actions, such as signing up for a newsletter or following branded magazines on Flipboard.
With the new service, publishing partners can now place the native advertising they're running on their own sites on Flipboard.
The promoted items will arrive Feb. 1 with Levi's -- which has already worked with Flipboard -- plus Merrill Lynch, Nars Cosmetics and University of California being among the first takers. In the initial rollout, brands can place the content in specific channels such as news, tech, sports, business, style, entertainment, auto, lifestyle, design, travel or culinary and food.
"As brands continue to become content creators we wanted Flipboard to be an easy place to extend distribution of their stories, products, research papers, films and photography," said Christine Cook, head of advertising partnerships at Flipboard, in the statement. "Brands that already have content in brand magazines on Flipboard can now highlight the best pieces more broadly across Flipboard and reach an audience of millions."
In September the company unveiled full-screen video ads, which run in the full-page ad slots that appear as people swipe through content in Flipboard's digital magazines.
It's not clear whether the company has grown its user base in the last year or so, as the most recent figure the company provides -- 100 million users -- dates back to at least late 2013, when the company announced it had received another round of funding for $50 million. In 2013, it grew users at a rapid clip, reporting that October that it had hit nearly 90 million users, nearly double what it had that April.
It's also not clear how many of that 100 million number are active users, or how many times per month users visit the site.
A Flipboard spokeswoman declined to provide new numbers or say how many of the 100 million are active users.
As of Monday, Jan. 19, Flipboard was the 797th most downloaded app on the Apple App Store in the U.S. It ranked 12th in downloads in the news category, according to research firm App Annie.