Florida startup Relevnt is experimenting with a new approach to online publishing.
Founder and CEO Winder Hughes said that it’s become unrealistic to expect readers to download an app for every publication that they follow, or even to type a bunch of URLs into their mobile browser. At the same time, when publishers rely on big platforms like Facebook and Google for distribution, they risk losing that direct connection to readers.
“We see the legacy website and web browser as an antiquated bottleneck for the way content is both distributed and consumed on mobile,” Hughes said — in fact, he argued that this is why the “duopoly” of Facebook and Google has come to dominate online ad revenue. In his view, Relevnt is “restoring this concept of ownership, control and monetization.”
So publishers can claim their “mobile domain” within the Relevnt app, where all the content from their website can automatically be published. The publisher controls the branding on the domain and (for a price) gets all the ad revenue.
Being good for publishers is not, on its own, going to attract a big audience. And while a newsfeed combining stories on the topics and publishers that you follow is nice, it might also sound pretty similar to the experience you can get on Facebook or a news app like Flipboard.
Hughes argued that the real selling point for consumers will be Relevnt’s emphasis on real-time content. Most competing platforms no longer have “a temporal connection,” he said, with algorithmic feeds and pages that may prioritize content from an hour or a day earlier.
Relevnt, on the other hand, prioritizes “Relevnt NOW” headlines, so you should always see the latest breaking news at the top of your feed. And it also emphasizes the real-time aspect by providing livestreaming tools to publishers.
Relevnt domains and articles don’t just exist in the Relevnt app. There’s also a mobile web version that publishers can link to from social media, and that could show up in Google search results. Hughes said his aim is to turn Relevnt into “this new, thin layer that’s sitting out on the web.”
And ultimately, Hughes doesn’t want users to just think of Relevnt as another app. Instead, he considers it a “mobile media browser.”
“It’s this utility that goes not against, but serves a greater purpose than your standard web browser,” he said.
Relevnt’s free app is currently iOS only. The company plans to charge publishers $4.99 per year to register their domain, and $9.99 per month for a plan where the publisher keeps all the ad revenue generated on their domain.