Apture, a company that helps publishers integrate multimedia content into their browsing experience, has only been getting better since I last covered it in June, having added new features addressing many of my reservations. And now the San Mateo, Calif. startup has raised $4.1 million in a first round of venture funding.

On a conceptual level, Apture is similar to the more established Snap Shots — both products allow you to open smaller windows within your browser for additional, complementary content. Apture has designed specific integrations with services like online encyclopedia Wikipedia, photo site Flickr, video site YouTube and many others, but any web site can be viewed in an Apture window. And in my (admittedly limited) experience, I’ve found that exploring Apture content tends to be smoother and more interactive than Snap Shots.

One of the best demonstration of the the product’s potential is its integration with the Washington Post, which is visible on articles like this one. The Post already has a database of congressional profiles, showing each member’s financial disclosures, latest votes and more, but it’s all stored in a separate section of the site. Even when it’s linked to, readers need to jump to a separate page to view it. With Apture, readers can view this data without a major interruption to their reading. That makes for a richer reading experience, increases the time people spend on an Apture-enabled site and boosts the amount of Washington Post content readers are absorbing at once. Just think about the amount of times you follow-up reading a news article by Googling a person or topic you wanted to learn more about; Apture wants more of that to happen without making the reader leave the publisher’s site.

Apture is also adding its Twitter integration to the Post’s content. With its links to profiles on the microblogging site, Apture has made some nice tweaks to the Twitter experience — for example, you can click on a user’s location and another window opens with a Google map, or you can click on a “hashtag” identifying a specific Twitter topic and Apture will open a Twitter search. In the Post’s case, if a congressperson has a Twitter account, the relevant link will be added to their Apture profile. (Let’s hope this encourages them to be a little more discreet with their tweets.)

The product has improved substantially in the past several months. My biggest complaint in June was that you couldn’t add Apture links until after you’d published an article. Now Apture works as a plugin for the major blogging platforms like WordPress, allowing you to add links pre-publication. Apture also tries to make the process less onerous by automatically generating suggestions for content that may be worth linking.

Apture says other customers include the BBC, the San Francisco Chronicle, and select blogs from the New York Times, such as Economix. While the list is impressive, it also starts to look suspiciously like a bunch of struggling old media companies. Apture chief Tristan Harris acknowledges that the media landscape has changed since Apture launched, but he says publishers are still looking for innovative ways to make money. Particularly in its use of multimedia content like video, Apture creates those opportunities.

The company’s new funding was led by Clearstone Venture Partners, with participation from angel investors Beau Vrolyk, Paul Maritz, and Steve Taylor. Apture previously raised less than $1 million in angel funding.

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