Web discovery engine Trapit launches publisher tools, with Here Media as first client

Trapit, a discovery engine for web content from the team behind Siri, is rolling out a set of publisher tools on Wednesday. The tools allow publishers to serve up their content through white-label iOS and web apps and offer personalized recommendations for readers around specific topics. The first client is Here Media, a media company that targets the LGBT community with magazines like The Advocate and Out, websites like Gay.net and Out.com, and the Alyson Books publishing division.
With Trapit’s existing web and iPad (s AAPL) apps, users search for a subject or URL and save it as a “trap.” Trapit then uses artificial intelligence to surface relevant web content from a pool of around 140,000 sources. Users can improve their recommendations by tapping a thumbs-up or thumbs-down and selecting the reason they don’t like a piece of content. There are now over 10 million people “inside the service,” Trapit cofounder Hank Nothhaft told me, though the company wouldn’t disclose the number of registered users.
Trapit’s new Publisher Suite lets publishers deliver content from their own publications and from across the web. They can also add their own sources to Trapit’s pool and can push out all of their content to readers in a somewhat Google Reader-like fashion. They get access to analytics and can see how users are engaging with content. And publishers control the advertising within their app. Pricing starts at $1,000 a month.

Advocate Discovery app 2Why Here Media chose Trapit: Control over ads and sources

Some of Trapit’s new publisher offerings sound similar to the new publisher services offered by Flipboard. The new features, rolled out at the end of March, let users create custom magazines using content pulled in from anywhere. From the beginning, Trapit has differentiated itself from Flipboard by emphasizing both the fact that it digs up content readers wouldn’t find on their own and that it doesn’t scrape content from publishers’ sites. (Trapit serves web pages within its app but shows their original design, videos, comments and ads.)
Paul Colichman, CEO of Here Media, told me that’s what attracted him to Trapit. Most discovery apps “literally lift the content from publishers and don’t compensate them at all,” he said. “When an app takes all of your content and delivers the whole story without any need to link and [without] showing any of your ads, it is not helpful for publishers.” Trapit, he said, is “more fair and appropriate for the publisher” because Trapit users see the same ads that they’d see on a publisher’s site.
Here Media customized its white-label Trapit iPad app, “Advocate Discovery,” for its users. “With all of these [discovery] platforms, the gay and lesbian community are often terribly underrepresented,” Colichman said. Trapit’s sources “didn’t pull from the hundreds or thousands of sources that are LGBT-specific.” So Here Media added about 1,500 custom sources to its app, and plans to add around 2,500 more in the next 60 days. “In my opinion,” Colichman said, “Advocate Discovery will be the only gay app any gay person ever needs.”
Trapit’s Nothhaft said that the company is in discussions with other publishers and expects to announce new partners soon. Non-publishers are signing on, too; consulting firm Deloitte used Trapit’s tools to create an internally available app that surfaces knowledge and information about the industries Deloitte covers.
Trapit is based in Palo Alto, Calif. and is backed by Horizons Ventures and SRI International.