Aggregation app targets niche content

By: Rob O'Regan

March 19, 2012

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Popular aggregation apps such as Flipboard and Zite are based on the ability to customize news and other general-interest categories, pulling in articles from a broad mix of sources. Publishers Press is hoping to carve out a niche in this space - literally - with a new aggregation app featuring niche magazine content.

The Magazine Channel (TMC), which Publishers Press is introducing this week at the Publishing Business Expo in New York, aggregates licensed content from a variety of the company's print customers in special-interest categories such as landscaping, travel, hunting/fishing and healthcare.

The TMC app, which will be available in web and native versions, will enable users to build personalized collections of articles within each interest category. TMC will include a recommendation and personalization engine being developed through a partnership with K-NFB Reading Technology. TMC will also leverage text mining technology from MarkLogic and Temis.

Publishers Press will sell targeted advertising for TMC, with revenues shared among content licensees.

Publishers Press is showing a prototype of TMC this week at Publishing Business Expo. General availability is expected in the second half of the year.

The news aggregation space is getting more crowded as the genre's popularity grows. Flipboard said last September that its app had been downloaded more than 3.5 million times. Another popular aggregation app, Zite, was purchased by CNN last August, reportedly for between $20-$25 million. A startup called News.me earlier this month launched its social news reader for the iPhone that aggregates and prioritizes the most-shared articles among a user's social networking contacts.

Those apps have caused some hand-wringing among publishers because they scrape and repackage existing web content. The Magazine Channel won't face any fair-use issues, as the content is licensed from individual publishers.

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