Today, Zite is excited to announce the Zite Publisher Program along with our inaugural class of publisher partners: Bleacher Report, CNN, Daily Beast, FOX Sports, HLNtv, The Huffington Post, Motley Fool, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
For our official (and much more succinct) announcement, we encourage you to read the press release. This blog post will give a bit more color around the background story: why Zite is unique, the value we are creating for publishers, and our vision for the future.
Discovery Creates News Fans
Zite is uniquely positioned to innovate on distribution with publishers because of how Zite works. At our core, we are a discovery engine: a place where users can go to find interesting articles that are personalized to a user’s particular needs/wants. One of the most common compliments we receive from our users is: “Wow, I find stuff on Zite that I couldn’t have found anywhere else.”
Zite’s goal isn’t to be the only place you go to read news. Much like a search engine, we just want to be your starting point. On a person’s iPad, for example, we expect that a user will use Zite and a number of publisher applications that they read cover to cover. Zite gives you a taste, but you need to go the publisher for their full experience.
To illustrate the breadth and depth of Zite, here are some interesting numbers:
- Zite users read millions of articles per day
- On an average day, articles from over 100,000 publishers are recommended by Zite
- No single publisher in Zite gets more than 2 percent of total article clicks
Publishers are the lifeblood of Zite: without high-quality articles, there would be nothing to recommend. Unfortunately, we got off to a rocky start with them. When Zite launched, we were skyrocketed from six years of obscurity (as a different company, called Worio) into the limelight. That caught the eye of a large group of major publishers, who, three weeks after we launched, sent us a Cease & Desist letter. At the time, we were looking for our Series A funding and hadn’t yet created a publisher solution. We had no problem switching their content into web-mode display, as has been our standard procedure since before launch, since we believe that publishers deserve full control over their content. At the time we had a strong hunch that this would be an inferior user experience. That turns out to be correct: Zite users interact in web mode about 20 percent less than they do in a mobile-optimized reading experience.
Despite our rough start with publishers, many started to realize that Zite provided a unique value to them: users of Zite were discovering content that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise read. This is isn’t shifting eyeballs from the publisher’s site to an aggregator, but a constant stream of people being exposed to great content for the first time.
As we talked to publishers about the best way to work with Zite, we realized that they are creating compelling experiences on their own properties. Publishers don’t want a platform that’s competitive with their own apps/sites. They want a place for people to discover their publication and then they want to see their fans download their own apps. Hence, the Zite Publisher Program was born.
The Zite Publisher Program
Users can now opt to add a section for any of our partner publishers. In those selections, we’ll try to find the best stories from the publisher for you by applying Zite’s personalization technology to the entire stream of stories. As with any section in Zite, we’ll find up to 50 new stories per day. If you’d like to see everything from that publisher, we’ll encourage you to download their application or subscribe to their magazine.
For publishers, this means that Zite has created a path to discovery for your application. First a user reads a great piece of content, adds your section in Zite, and eventually decides to enter into a deeper relationship by subscribing or downloading your app. We make that easy by allowing the publisher to include house ads with their articles in Zite that enable a single click from their article to their app in the app store.
For now, the Zite Publisher Program is invitation only and we’ll be concentrating on large, premium publishers. If you think you qualify and we haven’t yet spoken, we encourage you to e-mail us at email@example.com
If you’re a smaller publisher, don’t worry! We’re thinking hard about how we can best work with you also.
What’s most exciting about the announcement today is that we’ve taken the first step in applying our discovery technology to publishers. One of the great things about the iPad is that it’s caused us to rethink everything about publishing (how and when people consume, business models, UI) and it’s imperative for publishers to work together with aggregators in this new area. We hope that Zite’s discovery engine and personalization technology help users to discover content that they wouldn’t have otherwise read and that discovery will be a natural part of the ecosystem going forward.