There was a time when we could rely on the family dog to bring us the latest slobber-covered edition of the daily newspaper, but things have changed. These days, typified by the limitlessness of the internet, we tend to work a little harder to get our daily news fix. We jump from local to international news sites, from Facebook to Twitter, and this inevitably leads down a rabbit hole of shares, likes and clicks.
So, in an effort to give us the convenience of yore minus the slobber, Aucklander Anthony Patrickson and his team have developed The Daily Youser, a free app that collates content from different sources that the user might like and then presents it on a single homepage (the app is currently only available for iPad users).
"As a freelance writer and avid news follower I’d been amazed by apps like Flipboard yet confused as to why there wasn’t a more Australasian-focused version or a version with more specific choice than the usual generic sections – business, sport, news etc," says Patrickson. "So we set about designing a cool platform that would allow the user to select from an ever increasing range of topics and subtopics (from serious to satirical) to populate a scrollable front page that would act as a dashboard to their interests."
Although the app is based on the premise of reader convenience, Patrickson says that aesthetics will also play an important role in the success of the offering.
"The New York Times found that their content was more widely shared when it was in Flipboard format," he says. "It was seen as cooler, more modern. We can do just that for our side of the world: we can beautify the media, drive traffic and boost the experience of the end user simultaneously."
To align the start-up with this goal, Patrickson and his team have designed the app with a slick newspaper aesthetic that gives a modern nod to the print tradition.
And while the app borrows extensively from the newspaper industry, one thing that Patrickson has jettisoned is advertising.
"We wanted to stay clean, crisp, easy to use and free of banner ads or pop-up ads," he says. "The simple reasoning behind this is ‘banner blindness’ and advertising ignorance – we don’t feel it benefits the paying customer or enlightens the user experience enough to be part of our product (even though the ‘easy way out’ would have been to let Apple slap banners across our design)."
This aversion to banner ads when combined with his appreciation for smart content led Patrickson to the conclusion that content marketing would be the best way to create a revenue that doesn't alienate the user.
"We are content aficionados and we truly believe in the power of content marketing. We have a platform built for choice and engagement – with that set-up in mind, we opted for monetizing strategy that involved ‘article integration’ ... For example, Xero may want to place an informative article in the business section, so the fifth article in the section will be Xero’s content."
He says that the onus is on the advertiser to make content that's compelling enough to engage the audience and hopefully lead to sharing. One picture and 230 words of supplied content can be hosted on the app for a period of 48 hours, but Patrickson says there are also longer-term memberships available.
This revenue model differs significantly from that employed by US-based Flipboard, which sells full page ads to businesses who want to use platform. This being said, Flipboard sells its offering as a magazine app and, as such, is more conducive to the full-page fashion spreads that have for decades typified the reading experience of Vogue, Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan. And this approach appears to be working for the company.
Since launching, Flipboard has won a host of awards, it has been applauded by both Time Magazine and the Telegraph, and Apple selected it as the app of the year in 2010, the app's inaugural year.
And although comparisons with the American app are inevitable, Patrickson says that The Daily Youser is in its infancy and that the primary goal at this stage is to accumulate users.
"We’re consistently getting downloads for the app since our release just over a month ago and we’re about to start our own marketing push," he says. "Our achievable target is 100,000 downloads within our first 12 months."