The amount of news information a person can routinely access these days would have been unimaginable a hundred years ago. But we still have just 24 hours in a day, and only a single pair of eyes to read, and so the question arises: how to get as much valuable news as possible in a limited time?
The answer is news aggregation apps and services that are changing the way news is discovered and consumed. Online news aggregation services, are sites that allow you to view content from online newspapers, media outlets, blogs, etc. in one place.
Let’s envision how would a “dream” news aggregator be like.
Here we’re trying to envision a superior end-user experience to the one provided by the existing news aggregators.
Along with this section, we will use the symbols 1x, 5x, 10x, etc. to indicate how much the suggested vision would attract the end-user.
These are basically the bare minimum features necessary for our app to stand a chance against other competitors. The existing services have already implemented Most of these features.
Aggregating The News
Every news aggregator should have the ability to aggregate the news from different news sources on the web. The main feature in several news aggregators is the volume of news sources registered in their service. We used an RSS scraper to track and parse the RSS feeds of the targeted news sources.
Organizing The News Into Genres
The main goal of a news aggregator is to facilitate browsing the news content on the web, which can not be achieved without making any effort toward organizing the aggregated content. The simplest step towards an organized feed is to organize the content into well-defined groups that let the user browse the news in the group he is interested in.
View, Share and Save The Article
These are basic functionalities related to the user’s interaction, implemented by most of the existing services.
View: enable reading the full-content on the original site or on the app itself. In the case of the on-site viewing, the title of the article with an image and a snippet can be provided in the app. A combination of both of the viewing options would be the best idea.
Share: enable sharing the article across several social media services.
Save: enable saving the article for later reading. All the saved articles can be listed together in one section or can be organized in user-defined groups, which is favoured. Moreover, we can enable the shareability and mutual editing of these user-generated groups between users.
Other Non-functional Requirements
Some considerations to take into account while designing the app to enhance the user experience.
- Bad hardware: most of the smartphones are old and, thus the app should not have high demands.
- Old systems: most of the phones run Android and are generally old with un-upgradable systems, therefore, the app should try to support as many different distributions as possible.
- Slow internet: the app should take into consideration issues like the time needed to load images, pagination, lazy loading of images and the ability to disable them if needed.
- Small RAM: the smaller the app size the better it is for memory.
Initial Add Your Site Service
This should be a very simple service in our site in which the users can provide an RSS URL to us which we later review and possibly add to our service.
Multi-Platforms and User Sync
Retaining several platforms on both iOS, Android and web while having greater overhead is beneficial for 3 reasons:
- Marketing: the main platform of some Arabic startups is being able to –Do something– anywhere. (XX I don’t understand what this sentence means)
- Better user feedback: through mobile phones, most of the feedback we can get has a passive meaning that is because they are generated from what the users like, read, etc. While this is the main source of feedback in nearly all similar apps at the beginning of this project we want to be able to get more specialized feedback especially in stuff like community flagging (biased, inappropriate, NSFW, not fore children, etc.) of articles and filing complaints. This is not necessarily a drawback when we consider sites like reddit where the PC marks the main source of editing. (XX I don’t understand this sentence ” the PC marks the main source of editing “)
- The Arabic consumption of media is different: based on the Arab social media report some Arabic countries such as Iraq, have more social media accounts than devices, meaning that several users share the same device to connect to the internet, this is caused by the fact that internet cafes are very prosperous in these countries, the ability of targeting these people is constrained on the ability to target the web.
The goal is to enable a publisher account, this account should usually be partially or fully paid, here we can add all sorts of things like statistics on the articles (the most liked article, the most read topic, hot keywords, etc.) and analysis on the articles (most biased, clickbait titles, error, etc.) in order to help them with decision support and SEO stuff, we can even add the ability to do mutual advertisement deals where we direct the traffic to the publisher site and share in the ads revenue. More details on this in B2B section. (XX “we can even add the ability to do mutual advertisement deals” this sentence gives the feeling that we don’t care about authenticity, I think we shouldn’t add this to the article)
Enable personalizing the appearance to enhance the readability in terms of font type, font size, colours, and other similar stuff.
Customizable News Feed
Enabling the user to customize his news feed by choosing what he wants to follow in terms of:
- Genres: let the user get the news from the genres he’s interested in only.
- News Outlets: let the user follow the media outlets he loves.
- Author/User: follow a certain author or user (for the user-generated shareable groups)
- Tags: extract tags/keywords from the articles, to let the user follow more detailed entities.
Enable the user to retrieve the targeted news content by queries. Moreover, add search filters like the genre, news outlets, tags, etc.
Classifying The News into Popular, Latest, and Breaking
Most of the similar services do so.
- Popular News: news that people are talking about this a lot nowadays.
- Latest News: news published in the last hours.
- Breaking News: news that contains newly received information about an event that is currently occurring or developing.
Divide the news into worldwide news and local news which is specialized in reporting the news related to the user’s geolocation.
Don’t Show Duplicated Content
As the news aggregator aggregates the news from multiple sources, there is a big chance that many articles from different sources talking about the same event are shown in the news feed, which is annoying for the user. The solution is to aggregate the articles talking about the same event under one category in the news feed. This can be achieved by an event detection system.
For each event instead of the full articles, you get summaries with a picture. The implementation of such a service is viable by using event detection to aggregate similar articles then do multi-document summarization over them. Even better is to add the B2B factor here by making the articles from one outlet more preferable than others. (XX ” by making the articles from one outlet more preferable than others” this sentence gives the feeling that we don’t care about authenticity, I think we shouldn’t add this to the article)
Breaking News Notifications
Notify the user with breaking news. The user can determine topics, tags, etc. to be notified when a new event is detected in them.
We have three aspects to consider:
The suggested stuff: suggest content, outlets, authors/users, topics, etc.
- Content-based: suggest stuff according to the content being viewed by the user at a time.
- User-based: suggest stuff that may be loved by the user, and customize the user feed. All of these according to the user’s behaviour.
The suggested View:
- Same view suggestion: suggestion have the same user’s view.
- Contrary view suggestion: suggestions have a contrary view to the user’s one.
Ranking The Content
The suggested articles, the articles that are aggregated in the same event, the ones that retrieved by a search query, etc. should be ranked according to the best content using different metrics like readability, informativity, etc.
Supporting multiple languages, this would expand the users’ base, as well as enable wider view for the customers. The user can determine his mother tongue and other languages to get the news in. The articles which are written in foreign languages can be ranked by a leading factor which is the appropriateness of their readability-level to the user’s level in these languages.
Browse and Search The Visual News Content
Besides the visual content in the normal articles, we have a lot of articles that have purely visual content with no text. So, the goal is to enable browsing and searching the visual content. This content can be also categorized by genres, and organized by the news events.
1000x Vision for a News Aggregator
Detecting and eliminating fake news.
When you’re too busy to read the whole article, you can open the app to browse the headlines, select the attractive stories, and listen to the content! Another option could be listening to the news brief.
Once we know that a critical event has happened at a certain place we can alert the users in the surrounding area.
Get a summary of the remarkable events in a certain period easily by a visual customizable timeline.
This is mainly directed towards teens, the goal is to sensor any (articles/images/videos) that have violent or vulgar content.
Social Media Trends
Detect the trend topics in social media and aggregate the most popular posts talking about them.
Beyond The News
Extending the app to deal with other content types than news. like aggregating the reviews on products, places, films, etc. in different languages. Perform aspect-based sentiment analysis for each product, and summarize the reviews on a product visually, an advanced products search can be enabled depending on these summaries.
Here we’re trying to envision the possible business model and sources of revenue of a B2B scheme.
No Plain Ads
- No plain/ google style ads: these ads greatly damage the usability of the app and occupy a large portion of the screen while at the same time being very inefficient with very low CTR. (XX please explain what CTR is short for or reference an article the does that)
- simple ads can be incorporated within the feed and in a feed style similar to twitter’s promoted tweets.
Embracing Native Ads
Native ads constitute actual articles but at the same time they can get more profit since they have much higher CTR, the usage of this type alongside the publishers accounts can allow for a sort of native bazaar were we play the middle man between companies that wants to advertise for their products and the authors, this can be done in a service where advertisers would set their requests and then the authors would apply for them and we get a fee while in the same time setting restrictions on the number of native ads that can be hosted by each individual publisher . The ability of doing this can lure the publishers to add their sites to our service and obey any restrictions we want, by tempting them with ideas of get rich fast, on the same time we can market for a more “moral” message of giving voice to small publishers and lowering the impact of biased news outlets and other stuff. (XX “market for a more “moral” message of giving voice to small publishers” means that we don’t care about moral causes, this should definitely be removed)
Instead of relying on simple ad-based business models we are aiming to encourage the Arabic publishers, in this mode we will relay on premium publishers accounts, that comes with dashboards, and other services to improve their content, then we can share the revenues with these publishers based on the traffic size directed from our services towards their sites. This can create a win-win situation for the two parties.
In this post, we discussed our vision for a “dream” news aggregator service directed to an end-user especially in the Arabic world. We also discussed our vision for B2B scheme.
Do you know that we use all this and other AI technologies in our app? Look at what you’re reading now applied in action. Try our Almeta News app. You can download it from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.