Is there room for another online magazine?
A new digital publishing platform, StoryBy, thinks there is — and it is launching today, hoping to generate interest among contributors by sharing revenue.
“We have this crazy idea to launch the largest magazine in the world,” co-founder Janne Jormalainen told VentureBeat. Describing StoryBy as a “peer-powered magazine,” the former Nokia vice president said his company wants “to partner so everyone makes money.”
Founded at the end of last year, StoryBy has raised over a million dollars from angel investors and a semi-government investment fund in Finland. It’s incorporated in the U.S. and Finland and has offices in San Francisco, Helsinki, and New Delhi.
The target audiences, he told us, are people who find discussion forums “very ugly, not a pleasant experience,” those who have a story to tell but don’t want to maintain a blog, and brands who have had “bad experiences” with digital ads and want to provide their “information where relevant.”
“What we think is very different is the business model,” Jormalainen told us, based on returning most of the revenue to user-contributors.
A funding formula — based on such factors as a story’s page views, sharing, and generated income — is designed to return two-thirds of the magazine’s revenue from affiliate links and advertorials to story authors, as cash or gift cards. The company isn’t ready to announce any participating brands, Jormalainen said, but he expects to make such announcements next month.
Won’t advertorials and affiliate links drive story subjects toward that kind of content?
Readers’ comments and up- or down-votes on content will keep the publication from becoming too sponsor-oriented, he said.
“A story created only for links will be down-voted,” he predicted. The system also automatically screens for offensive language, and there will be manual moderation by the staff. Popular topics will trend upward, with the magazine reformatting itself around stories about the most popular subjects.
“Commercial information is good,” Jormalainen noted, “when it is contextually relevant and inside the discussion.” Affiliate links have a slightly different look than regular links, but they have the same look as any external link. Advertorials will contain the brand name as the author, but only on the story itself. The picture/headline leading to the story does not contain the sponsor’s name, so you don’t know it’s an advertorial until you’re in it.
The dynamic platform is built so that a visitor coming in through a Google search will see a page of stories that is customized on the fly around the content in the search phrase. Users can also enter through a link, and see the magazine in its “natural” state.
Only users with profiles can submit stories, up to 500 words with video or photos if desired. Stories can be downloaded, and users can comment anonymously or through their logged-in selves. Pages have a sort-of flip between them for page turning, and the platform is optimized for smartphones and tablets. When a user starts to write a story in the online form, the system suggests topics for content and placement in the magazine.