It’s getting hard to keep track of all the digital news readers out there, and it’s likely we’ll be seeing even more players elbow into the small space as tablets take over our lives. RSS advertising network Mediafed is set to become another of those players with a just-announced acquisition of Taptu, the Denver-based maker of content-discovery tools and an app that allows users to “DJ their news”.
The deal, settled for an undisclosed sum, puts London-based Mediafed into competition with Flipboard, Pulse, Flud, Feedly, Zite, and Prismatic, just to name a few. Unlike some of its new competitors, however, Mediafed is already a money-maker, thanks to partnerships with 1,200 publishers worldwide, including the New York Times, the Guardian, and El Mundo, and its promise of helping advertisers reach RSS subscribers.
The acquisition is the latest move in a news industry that is still enduring the throes of painful disruption. While newspapers are opting for the go-it-alone approach in building out their own websites and mobile publications, the newsreader crowd – of which Mediafed is now a part – is betting on platforms as the future of content (a subject I visited yesterday).
Because platforms offer a combination of personalization and curation, the approach makes sense. The struggle they face is how to turn those platforms into profitable businesses. It’s not yet clear that they are monetizable beyond just advertising at this point, but I expect they will ultimately offer premium features to subscribers.
What’s even less clear is that a world of commodity news delivered via RSS can support a market large enough to keep so many players in the game. The proliferation of these services suggests that the barriers to entry are low. Of course, they don’t have to worry about pesky expenses such as editorial costs.
For its part, Mediafed is looking to Taptu to help bolster its strength in mobile, and also to help kickstart an advertising ecosystem for mobile. As we move ever faster into an era in which news is consumed entirely over smartphones and tablets, that ecosystem is going to be a crucial piece of the puzzle for the future of news. For now, however, it remains just a puzzle.