Zite owner CNN, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, VentureBeat, HLNtv, Motley Fool and The Next Web each will have their own Zite sections today, and others will be added over time.
So, for example, the app will take in all of the content CNN publishes in a day and place it in the most relevant order based on each Zite user’s interests, CEO Mark Johnson told me. I might be shown CNN stories on media, technology and sports, while you might see entirely different ones.
What about the business model?
No money is changing hands, but Johnson said he believes the partnership is mutually beneficial.
“For now we feel that there is enough value creation in upselling users to the applications the publisher has, or the subscriptions the publisher has,” Johnson said. “A challenge for publishers in this era is that getting to the top of the app store is so important, and once you’ve launched the application sometimes it’s really hard to get users to know that it exists. We think that the best time to get a user to download is after they’ve read a phenomenal piece of content and say, ‘I really love The Daily Beast,’ or ‘I really love CNN’ and want to have a deeper relationship with them.”
A similar rationale has led dozens of major publishers to partner with Flipboard. Content from news sources like Huffington Post, CNN, ABC News or The New Yorker appears in full inside the Flipboard app, accompanied by paid advertising or house ads promoting the publisher’s own app.
It helps to think of this approach as the top end of an audience funnel — touching a broad base of potential new readers, some of whom you can then pull down the funnel to become occasional readers and then loyal subscribers. It’s worth trying, in my opinion, to see how effective it is at sending you new audiences, and gather intelligence from the usage data that Zite will share with partners.