It is the common written work of different publishers onto a single, ad-free platform. where readers can pick and select which stories to consume, paying a few cents per article, is touting passing one million registered users.
One key feature is the ability of paying readers to get a refund on any story if they didn’t like what they read, although they are required to specify why they want a refund (and presumably refund abusers would soon be kicked off). Jarjour says Blendle’s refund rate is just under 10 per cent platform wide at this point, and a bit lower in the US — a rate he says is “basically unchanged”.
Blendle also manages access so if a user pays for multiple articles from a particular publication and exceeds the subscription cost for a particular issue the rest of the content is automatically unlocked. Idea being they won’t be paying more just for the privilege of being choosy.
Unlike social services with news streams powered by algorithmic popularity alone, Blendle touts human curation as core to its appeal, employing a team of in-house editorial staff reading content to surface what they deem ‘quality journalism’.
However it’s now testing a content personalization feature, called the Blendle Premium Feed, that will push a tailored feed of stories at each user. The feed is being powered by a mix of algorithmic predictions, based on analysis of users’ past behavior and preferences, blended with human selections, via its own in house team. Its editorial staff are being used to identify and flag quality content to supplement algorithmic recommendations — with the aim of avoiding a content filter bubble scenario narrowing the horizons of its readers.
The feed is majority algorithmic recommendation, with human choices comprising around three stories per day — as ‘anti filter bubble picks’ — vs around 12 machine selected daily picks. It’s going to be a balancing act for sure, as Blende notes in its blog post announcing the new feature, which it says it’s still testing — adding that the first results are “encouraging”.
Blendle, founded four years ago by two journalists, has set out to combat a “toxic mix”—the rising popularity of ad-blocking software and the steady decline in sales of newspapers and magazines. “There is a problem in the industry with how you make money with quality journalism,” says Blendle co-founder Alexander Klöpping. “It’s getting harder and harder for publishers. Music has its own platform. Video has its own platform. So we thought, Why hasn’t it happened for journalism?”
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