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Zite Gives Publishers More Visibility With New Program

Partners include The Daily Beast, The Next Web, CNN
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Zite, the personalized news reading app owned by CNN, is getting cozier with publishers.

Starting today, the Flipboard-esque app which algorithmically tailors content to suit each reader's taste, will provide users with the ability to filter their content by specific publishers' sections in addition to its existing topical sections—theoretically ensuring that their favorite publications aren't ignored by Zite's algorithm. For example, besides using Zite to surface stories on technology, users can now specifically request stories from CNN's technology section.

The goal, the company said, is to give readers the ability to find new content and publishers while still keeping up with the publishers they already know and love.

"People love the discovery [Zite enables]," said Zite CEO Mark Johnson. "That being said, there are certain publishers [they] have relationships with and want to see more from."

At launch, the company said the Zite Publisher Program will include parent company CNN, Bleacher Report, HLNtv, The Daily Beast, Motley Fool, The Next Web, Fox Sports, Huffington Post and VentureBeat. By the end of the year, Johnson said, the company hopes to have dozens of partners.

For owner CNN, the new program ensures that its content gets in front of even more digital eyeballs, but the deal works in the same way for all partners. Each participating publisher gets its own algorithmically-curated section, along with the opportunity to upsell to their subscription service or mobile app with house ads located at the bottom of each article. Zite also said that publishers should benefit from the app's mobile-optimized reading experience, which the company boasts generates stronger user engagement than Web pages for features such as social sharing. Additionally, publishers will receive regular analytics and reporting to get a handle on how their sections are performing.

In the past, news reading apps have been criticized for stripping the content they display of the ads that would normally appear with them on publishers' websites. In fact, last year prior to the CNN acquistion Zite drew the ire of some publishers. But Johnson said that while tablets may have initially threatened some media companies, they've warmed up to the platform as they've seen consumers embrace it.

Indeed, a study last October from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that about half of iPad owners get news on their tablet every day, making news consumption one of the most popular activities on the device.

In the past few months, Zite has also rolled out branded sections for companies such as Lululemon and Bergdorf Goodman that feature content that aligns with the brands.