Publishers Looking to Leverage Big Data to Understand Readers

An article today earlier today outlined Tynt’s acquisition by 33Across, which will help give publishers insights into what readers are doing on their sites, and empower them to attract and retain more users. Another publishing insights tool, analytics startup Parse.ly, launched their banner platform Dash to the public this week. Dash, which launched in private beta in 2011, analyzes user information to help publishers understand their users and tailor content to their needs. It breaks down where a publisher’s traffic is coming from, which authors get the most traction, and how users are coming to their site. It also allows editors to capitalize on trends by monitoring topic popularity.

Co-founders Sachin Kamdar and Andrew Mondalenti worked on several ideas before Parse.ly, including pre-cursors to Yelp and Instapaper that they shelved when those products were released. They also worked on a news analytics program that (accurately) predicted the results of the 2008 election based on news coverage and trends. After being accepted to Philadelphia startup accelerator Dreamit Ventures in 2009, and after experimenting with a personalized news reader, they settled on a news startup that allows publishers to optimize their content through personalization. Their first platform, P3, was devoted to optimizing content for users based on what others were reading. That’s when they realized that what publishers really wanted was data that helped them understand who their readers are, and how to target relevant content to them.

“On the web, there were clear examples of other technology companies leveraging personalization technology to fine-tune a user’s experience,” Kamdar wrote on the company’s blog, giving the ‘Amazon and books’ and ‘Netflix and movies’ example. “Yet, when it came to content, most online publishers were treating each user the same.”

Pricing for Dash starts at $499/month, with custom pricing for additional features and content frequency. The product is already being used by clients including The Next Web and The Atlantic, and an editor at existing client VentureBeat called it “catnip for editors.” The NYC-based company has raised investment from Blumberg Capital and several individual investors including Scott Becker, the co-founder of Invite Media. Dash and today’s Tynt acquisition represent a growing need for publishers and editors to have access to big data, and to a specific user’s ‘interest graph.’ News personalization seems to be a tough nut for the publishing industry to crack, and any data that makes it easier will have a receptive audience.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is the Managing Director at 88 Creative, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit, and currently writes a monthly column for the Financial Post. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.