Business

Content-recommendation app Trapit grows up, enters formidable world of publishing

Just as Wall-E used artificial intelligence to navigate a vast wasteland, Trapit applies AI to uncovering the best parts of the Internet.

Trapit launched its new publisher suite today, the startup’s first business-to-business product that lets publishers and brands create personalized, more engaging reading experiences.

“The web is generating more content per day than ever before,” said founder Hank Nothhaft Jr. in an interview with VentureBeat. “There are plenty of web aggregators and distribution networks, but as far as I am concerned, these are one-trick ponies. They are not solving problems as far as publishers are concerned. We use artificial intelligence to create branded personalized content experiences for audiences; it’s like machine-assisted editorial, and the impact on engagement is tremendous.”

Trapit was born out of the prestigious research institute SRI International, the same organization that spun out the Siri virtual assistant technology later acquired by Apple. Trapit combines artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and personalization technology to act as a discovery engine for the web. When Trapit launched in 2011, it was a consumer product that sorted through the massive amount of Internet content to surface articles that were specifically relevant to each individual user.

With this latest offering, Trapit will sell its tools to businesses that want to recommend content to their readers from multiple sources, without redirecting users to other sites, syndicating, or working with an ad-network. Nothhaft said that after Trapit released an iPad app in July 2012, the company received an outpouring of interest from the media industries about how they could use the technology to enhance their own native and digital experiences. Nothhaft jumped on this opportunity to generate revenue, without making money through consumers or advertising.

AdvocateDiscovery3Using Trapit’s publishing tools, customers can curate topics that are important to their audience based on key words and topics. The engine dives into a 140,000 vetted sources that won’t necessarily pop up in search engines, and delivers the content in real-time to interested users. Nothhaft said that while social networks user other people to filter the web, that method of surfacing content often turns out to be an “echo chamber,” and search is gameable. Additionally, syndication agreements, third-party plugins, and ad networks surface “junky” content that adds little value to the publisher or the reader. Trapit’s advanced technology provides a superior, more authentic alternative.

“Trapit is able to understand the context of an article more deeply than a set of keywords and keeps the user around longer, to create a relationship,” he said. “We monitor how users interact with content and apply that feedback differently, as well as data on what they are opening, how long they are spending, what they share, what they delete etc… We develop a rich understanding of the user and those interests in real-time, and surface articles within moments. This personalizes content to each individual users. No two Trapit feeds are exactly the same, and no other service can claim that.”

Publishers appreciate the fact that app is white-labeled and doesn’t redirect users or dilute the integrity of their brand. Nothhaft said that he takes a broad view of what a publisher is, and in addition to working with traditional media properties, Trapit also has customers like Deloitte which uses Trapit to power an internal iPad reader. The app personalizes business news and internal reports, so a consultant who is out in the field can quickly access information that is relevant to them without spending the time to search.

Furthermore, the software enables publishers to extend their publishing into mobile without spending a large amount of money. Clients can publish content to branded iPad and web apps, as well as email and social networks, to build community around their topic. And of course, analytics are part of the package. Trapit is based in Palo Alto, California.

Photo Credit: Trapit


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