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Summary:

Personalized social reader Zite is updating its iOS app with more Google Reader-inspired features, and also added seven new publishers to its publisher program.

paidContent Live 2013 Mark Johnson Zite
photo: Albert Chau

Personalized reading app Zite is updating its iOS app Wednesday with a few Google Reader-inspired features and some algorithm changes designed to surface more obscure content. Zite also announced seven new publishing partners — including GigaOM — bringing the total number of publishers it works with to 24.

Zite outlined the changes in a blog post. CEO Mark Johnson has been pretty vocal about how he doesn’t think Zite should be like Google Reader, and told me the new features Zite has added to its iOS app are those that “enhance the user experience both for Google Reader users and the reading population in general.” Articles will now “gray out” after they’ve been read, users will be able to save sources as favorites and Zite’s algorithm will pay more attention to obscure content:

“One of the biggest problems with Google Reader is that RSS feeds which publish many stories per day tend to dominate your feed, so the obscure blog you found a few years ago that publishes every three months can be drowned out in the noise. Zite’s algorithm will more aggressively highlight rare content, so feel free to ‘like’ publishers that you enjoy, no matter how popular or rare.”

An Android update is coming soon.

Zite’s also added seven new publishers to its publisher program, bringing the total number of publishers it works with to 24. The new publishers are GigaOM, Atlantic Media (with The Atlantic and Quartz), Business Insider, Fast Company, Salon, Say Media (Remodelista and ReadWrite) and Serious Eats, and they join existing publishers like CNN (Zite’s parent company), the Huffington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. Zite publisher partners share their “best-of” content in their own sections of Zite’s app, and can run their own ads against their content.

“We are also starting to look at ways to monetize publisher content,” Johnson said. That’s something Zite’s competitors are already doing: The New York Times makes content available to paying subscribers through Flipboard, and the Wall Street Journal has a similar arrangement with Pulse.

Here’s a video of Johnson speaking about the future of content personalization at paidContent 2013:

  1. “One of the biggest problems with Google Reader is that RSS feeds which publish many stories per day tend to dominate your feed, so the obscure blog you found a few years ago that publishes every three months can be drowned out in the noise.”

    No. This has never been a problem with Google Reader. the “inbox” layout of the service has always made it easy to see exactly which sites updated and how many new updates there were on the left. You know what this problem? Apps like Zite who feel the need to group all my RSS feeds together into one big feed.

    Google Reader had it right, and for some reason everyone who wants to be a competitor now would rather make big, flashy “magazine-style” readers that are ultimately useless for someone who actually wants to read the content from the feeds the subscribed to. I selected the RSS feeds that I follow in Reader because I want to read them. I don’t need services like Zite to use magical algorithms to decide what I want to read for me.

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    1. Agree. I do use Zite for exactly the thing you mentioned – the magical algorithm that gives what appears to be random news that I want. but when I want to read I turn to Google Reader

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