Look Ahead: Take a Peek

By: Nu Yang

Look Ahead: Take a Peek

Publishers now have a simple way for their print readers to find and share articles online. Launched in November 2013, Peekster is an iOS app that scans the headline with optical character recognition through the smartphone’s lens. Then, the algorithm matches the headline with the digital version of the article online and allows the users to share it with their social networks or find related content from other relevant news sources and blogs.

Headquartered in London, Peekster originally launched in the U.K. market supporting publications such as The Times, The Independent, Metro, The Guardian, London Evening Standard and City AM. This spring, Peekster made it overseas, officially launching in the U.S., supporting The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Tine Hamler said the company is currently in talks with several other newspapers and magazines. “Most of them find Peekster really useful because it is easy to implement and quickly accessible by their readers,” he said. “Peekster also collects data that is useful for printed newspapers so it can give them a more in-depth feedback on how users engage with their content.”

Currently, Peekster is only available for the iPhone, but Hamler said due to the growth of its user base (20 percent every month), it is working on expanding to other platforms such as Android devices and Windows Phone.

Peekster offers a basic free app, but Hamler said it comes with some reading limitations that can be unlocked through purchasing the premium version that gives users additional features and removes ads. Peekster also offers publishers a pricing model when they join that gives them access to detailed analytics.

Hamler predicts reader engagement will grow when they use Peekster. “It gives a user an option to use a newspaper as a web browser,” he said. “This means they can easily interact with the content: share it, save it for later, easily find additional related content and so on. It’s a fun way to interact with print and discover new content.”

Peekster is also exploring revenue opportunities for publishers. “One idea is to create a marketplace of individual articles, which means that users could discover and purchase related and premium content they are interested in reading,” Hamler said. He explained it would be like iTunes, where users can search and purchase individual articles instead of buying an entire publication.

“Our next big milestone is to launch Peekster for Android and to help grow our user base on other platforms,” Hamler said. “We are currently looking for an investment that could help us reach the milestones quicker.” For more information, visit peekster.co.

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