fall / 2012

The magazine of branded content

Investors Rally Around Content Tool

Some heavy hitters are betting big on a new aggregation assistant.
Sep 1, 2012

Don't tell us you're still beating your dirty laundry on a rock. Well, if you're fueling your branded-content property with RSS feeds and Google alerts, you're still toiling away doing the digital equivalent.

Online content has gone through several iterations in the ongoing merry-go-round of publishers trying to win at search and search engines refining their algorithms to improve user experience. (Each Google algorithm update sinks content farms, keyword stuffers and aggregators deeper into the backwater muck of page-rankings.) Now, one company has debuted a solution that enables publishers to curate content and distribute it through a multi-channel platform with as close to set-it-and-forget-it ease as we're likely to see anytime soon.


Publish This CEO Matthew Kumin heads a team that developed a tool that enables publishers to cull the info they want and customize it to their liking. So far, the most prominent operation using the tool is Skift, run by Paidcontent founder Rafat Ali and Frommers.com veteran editor Jason Clampet, with funding from investors like Chris Ahern, Gordon Crovitz, Alan Meckler, Luke Beatty, Tom Glocer and Vishal Gondal. They're betting that this shift will elevate the content curator to the food-chain chief of the digital content ecosystem.

Kumin and his partners have spent a funded $5 million for software that discovers and curates content, feeds it across your marketing channels and then optimizes.

“The hunting and pecking method of content curation is inefficient,” says the Los Angeles-based Kumin. “This tool allows the editor or curator to sit on top, with the aid of a semantic search engine and CMS that’s populated with keywords in a specific vertical.”

Kumin says the software can target more than twenty million data points among many verticals. So, for example, a site for accountants, like iShade—a PT client—can employ a curator like Rob Nance to enter keywords like firm news, technology, legislation, and Big Four.

“We’re able to wrap different platforms around subjects,” says Nance, iShade’s curator/chief content manager who uses PT for Bulletin, the site’s news section. “Twitter feeds appear right there, and I can pit stories against each other, a point-counterpoint approach. I can bring in appropriate blogs from CPAs out there, and they love it because it drives traffic to their site. So I’m getting varied viewpoints, and as a curator, that’s valuable.”

Nance curates about sixty stories a day. If he’s absent from his office, at a daylong accounting conference, for example, PT’s automated scheduling feature enables a steady stream throughout the day.

As of October, iShade had 10,000 readers (the only cost for membership is a valid email address), but Nance believes the positive feedback generated by the rich flow of content will help attract 200,000. “The accounting universe is quite large—probably a couple million,” he says.

“At the end of the day, we’re making things more efficient for our users,” he says. “People who are using our Bulletin section can stop subscribing to a half dozen accounting-based newsletters, so they no longer need to scan each one to see what’s interesting. All they have to do is leave their browser open in iShade, and they don’t have to look through emails. And this is great for our vertical, because any time you come out with something that’s more efficient or exceeding an ROI, an accountant’s eyes light up.”