We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Mobile is transforming the way we consume content. And this is especially true of the 18 to 34 year old millennials who are continuously connected to their smartphones and who use them to communicate with their friends via social apps like Facebook, Snapchat and and Whatsapp. (Who talks on their phones any more?)
Al Jazeera, the global news organization owned by the state of Qatar, is targeting this group with its mobile-only app AJ+. The app tells news stories with stacks of content cards (pictured above). Think of them as individual multimedia posts. Cards are particularly well suited to smaller mobile screens, and they allow the user to quickly skim a story and get the essential points with a few simple swipes. It’s like Tiinder, but for news.
Using cards, the app serves up small servings of news along with side orders of curated content that explores the news in more depth: these include explainers, videos and factoids.
AJ+ just came out of beta and is now available on app stores. Since its soft-launch in June, it has attracted over 48,000 Facebook fans, 48,000 Twitter followers and over 18,000 YouTube subscribers.
Engagement is core to the strategy behind AJ+. The app has a dedicated engagement team charged with generating user involvement in the stories. To engage users, the team creates content such as quizzes or initiates debates. The idea is to get users sharing and contributing to the conversations, and to get them coming back several times a day.
This app is evidence that aggregation and content curation is alive and well, and growing in importance as the volume of content online explodes. It can be a low-cost fire hose of content for publishers, and if done right, it can improve publishers’ credibility with their readers.