In a digital media landscape dominated by the gorgeous Flipboard and slick Pulse, there's barely time to sift through scores of different kinds of readers and news aggregators themselves, much less the headlines they gather. It's a huge challenge for both relatively unknown media outlets trying to surface great content and yet another new news reader touting a smart iPad interface.
So today smart news reader News360 is launching a publisher's program to take on the dual challenge. It's targeting niche and local news outlets that are creating high-quality content, but who aren't able to get good visibility on their own.
"Those guys are looking for ways to find new audiences. They know they’re out there, but it’s very hard to market their content, especially on mobile," News360 CEO Roman Karachinsky tells Fast Company. "How do you go about attracting new users on an iPad? It’s almost possible to break through if you’re a newcomer, so you need smart discovery methods."
News360's artificial intelligence looks deeper into your online behavior and interests than almost any other reader. It analyzes your activity on any accounts you link to the service—Evernote, Facebook, Google Reader, and more—and combines that with data parsed from your interactions with the app itself, from how long you spend reading a particular story to which different news sources are publishing the content you view.
The strategy is different from, say, CNN's Zite, which pulls in some social data but mostly uses your interaction on Zite itself to power its recommendation engine, or Flipboard, which features sources and content surfaced by editors.
"I think it’s wrong to put it in the hands of human editors, because the largest publications tend to get the most visibility while smaller brands get lost, just like they do in the App Store," Karachinsky tells Fast Company. "People don’t need to discover the New York Times."
That isn't to say the New York Times doesn't deserve screen time on a news reader, but Karachinsky sees value in positioning News360 to become the go-to partner for smaller publications that get lost in the noise—News360 currently has about 1.5 million users. The idea is that quality content can come from anywhere.
The publisher program won't help News360 make money initially, but Karachinsky says he's focusing on proving a point to the publishers who sign on early: that News360 users will engage with stories not necessarily based on who's publishing them, but rather on how quality they are.
"In the myriad of content creators that exist, you have to have very good quality content to rise above the fold," he says. "That’s a problem that needs solving."
[Flickr image: Hamed Saber]