Content Aggregators: Everything You Need to Know

Digital news publishers come across various challenges and one common among them are content aggregators.

In this insightful piece, I am going to focus on two aspects related to content aggregators:

  • The influence of content aggregators on digital news publishing
  • How to handle various issues working with the content aggregators

But before we delve into the details, let me first define you exactly what does content aggregators mean.

Content Aggregators

Content Aggregators – Definition:

A content aggregator can be an organization or an individual that collects web content, as well as web applications from various sources on the internet for resale or reuse.

Broadly speaking, content aggregators can be categorized into two divisions:

  1. Organizations or individuals who are focused only on gathering news from different online sources.
  2. Organizations or individuals who gather as well as distribute the new for clients, which is the process of content syndication.

The irony related to content aggregators is that they were initiated off by digital news publishers, and presently they are the one who hates them most. But despite this truth, one sour fact is that customers have a deep liking for content aggregators.

I am sure you would want to know how content aggregators came into existence. Let’s dive into some details.

Content Aggregators – History:

It was in 2015 when content aggregators stepped into the digital industry. But a large number of online publishers considered content syndication as malpractice. As a result, they rejected aggregators and rather selected platforms like Yahoo News, AOL, and Google News. Most importantly, none of the digital publishers wanted to outweigh their budget. So, they preferred creating and offering free news searches for BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and more.

Initially, content aggregators have very small size of the targeted audience. However, over the time they have grown rapidly into capacity and successfully accomplish the aim of being everywhere the readers are. As a result, a large number of publishers begin relying on the aggregators solely. Unfortunately, they did not find a feasible solution to reach to their audience. Instead, they started offering their unique content to the aggregators for free of cost.

The only thing they got in return was a large number of views without any ROI.

Undoubtedly, generating revenue is a huge challenge for online publishers. In context to content aggregators, the only viable option available is to bet on the subscription models. Definitely, this is not a win-win case for the online news publishers, but still, it can help them rest in a better state.

How Content Aggregators has Influenced News Consumption?

It’s true that over the past decade, content discovery has altered to a great extent. However, the way audiences consume news has also changed drastically. Presently, audiences prefer news having the following traits:

  • Frictionless
  • High-quality
  • Searchable
  • Shareable
  • Readily-available

A piece of news content with all these traits can expect a return for the audience’s interest. In the present scenario, many customers are now willing to pay an aggregator website at least once a month to get access to varieties of news available from numerous publishers. For such customers, this is a far way more cost-effective and convenient process to pay just once and get access to maximum, high-quality content the entire month.

But this way is not of many benefits to the publishers. The only way that can bring more benefit to the digital publishers would be if the customers are paying every time or for every piece of content they consume on an aggregator website, which definitely the customers are not willing to do.

Content Aggregators and Digital News Publishers – The Conflict

Offering content for free of cost and still being attacked by the content aggregators is not an ideal state for any digital publisher. With the advent of social media, digital publishers have further developed the desire to gain more shares and likes over an authentic subscriber base.

Despite all these known facts, most of the publishers are quite lazy and not focusing on identifying new routes to reach their customers or subscribers. Probably, they have expected what they are in. They even don’t imagine partnering with others in the industry to develop a socially engaging news network of a similar platform to share their knowledge.

Rather, most of them are providing high-quality content for absolutely free of cost on Facebook. As a result, they are brand unfriendly creator and controller of content.

Does Social Media Works as a Content News Aggregator?

Whether it is breaking news or editorial news, social media offers an easy route to source different kinds of news content and allow quickly commenting and sharing it with family and friends.

Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles are highly interactive and fast-loading platforms that keep readers engaging within their proprietorship, thus limiting the possibility of monetization as well as offering readers pre-defined layouts. On the alternative side, Google AMP offers an effort to shift to more responsive web applications with fewer limitations.

Facebook alone can direct around 27% of the traffic volume to most of the news websites, which is up to 70% of the total. So, what occurs to the total volume traffic when the full-content articles of a publisher are hosted in the social arena? So, why must the readers visit the websites of publishers again when they won’t be able to avail the conversations and content they want on Facebook?

It is because such platforms invite publishers as well as customers with open arms. Such platforms have developed an efficient and exciting way to disperse content and eliminating the requirement for publishers to have sites.

Considering the Backlink Techniques

One aspect of content aggregators for news publishers is the backlinks. With this tactic, the content aggregators attract the publishers to offer their content for free and get a high-quality backlink in return.

Even, a lot of experts have listed this tactic as a promising SEO practice. If you are practicing SEO, then you are already aware of how exciting this high quality backlinks sound. But the question is that, is it a good idea to have backlinks and likes in exchange if you don’t have enough readers who truly enjoy your content and can become your loyal customers.

Moreover, with the block ads within the apps already appearing in the app stores, it cannot be concluded that these content aggregators can offer publishers a way to reach out to customers through advertising. It is because the major concern still lies from where the revenue will come from.

When snippets and headlines from publishers function as the aggregator commodity, there is quite a debate as to whether such aggregators must share revenue with publishers as they will be earning money behind other clickbait.

This sounds somewhat similar to the challenges and issues faced by the music industry during the streaming of audio products. It is an ongoing debate that is expected to continue to rage on with the growth of mobile usage. While a large number of platforms such as Pulse and Flipboard are onboarding content partners, for most of them, there are very few opportunities available for revenue sharing.

Content Aggregators – Understanding the Good and Bad Aspects

The content aggregators have numerous negative connotations surrounding them. There are some benefits to working with these aggregators. To ensure that you make an ideal choice, here I will share with you some of the pros and cons of content aggregators.

The Good or Pros of Content Aggregators:

The various pros of content aggregators are:

  • Before the content is distributed, a lot of trusted aggregators personalize the content as per the customers. This way, it is quite easier for the audiences to connect with your content.
  • Content aggregators can help maximize your content reach. A lot of content aggregators are experts in content distribution and they implement adequate techniques to maximize the reach of your content to the potential audience.
  • Moreover, most of the content aggregators alleviate the need for manually syndicate the content at the publisher level. This way, it is possible for digital news publishers to save a lot of resources and time.
  • Some of the content aggregator websites help the digital news publishers to build high-quality backlinks for your website and hence enhance the SEO efforts.

Content aggregators offer all such benefits, but these pros apply to trusted aggregators only. Examples of such reliable content aggregator are Jimmy Wales, WikiTribune.

The Bad or Cons of Content Aggregators

Content aggregators have some ugly facts related to it.

  • Sometimes, the content can lead to cannibalizing off the audience of the subscriber base for the website during the time when your audience is reading the content on a content aggregator website.
  • Digital news publishers have very little or no authorship or authority over the content published by them.
  • On a general basis, content aggregators are focused on promoting their own brand and not yours, until you have a well-known brand. If your brand is renowned then only they will promote the brand along with their own brand.
  • If you are offering content on other websites then the customers will visit and consume content on that particular website. As a result, the online visibility of your brand will start diminishing.
  • Usually, a content aggregator and a publisher do not share a transparent relationship. The content provider is never aware of who have read and consumed your content.
  • You might have generated the best quality content but if you are offering it to content aggregators then you fail to develop a direct communication between you and your customers. Eventually, you lose on the change to understand your consumer better. Moreover, this can even lead to loss of conversion opportunities.
  • A lot of content aggregators lack having an in-depth understanding of the target audience. Often, they end up targeting irrelevant audiences for the content and therefore may avoid landing you in a healthy situation.
  • The primary aim of content aggregators is to massively distribute their content. Usually, they do not care much whether the content is not personalized or includes fake news. Hence, they often end up causing a negative influence on your brand image.

Analyzing these pros and cons, such platforms are really not helpful to publishers to grow an audience in a trusted environment and build a much deeper relationship with them.

Can Content Aggregators and News Publishers Work in Harmony?

Definitely, content aggregators and news publishers can work in harmony only by underlying a plan of action and outlining some strong rules to maintain this relationship.

The important question that must be answered is who can be really trusted for your content? The content aggregators or digital publishing partner!

For most of us, the answer is already known. The relationship between publishers and aggregators must be symbiotic with a fixed payment royalty every time the content is being read by the audiences. In this scenario, the two major options available are – Paid Content Aggregators and Free Content Aggregators.

For those who wish to move ahead with the paid aggregators, there are numerous paid models available, which can be explored for a prosperous collaboration. Also, there must be absolute transparency and better scope for an informed decision regarding the content these aggregators are distributing.

The aggregators must be a backlink to the original content. They must be efficient in organizing the content in a way so that the readers can quickly find them.

To a great extent, the free news aggregator applications may be quite useful to create brand awareness with the audiences, but profits must also come from the following ways:

  • Providing responsive design
  • Delivering content worthy of payments
  • Advanced digital features must be introduced to keep readers engaged for a longer time period and make high-value content easily discoverable.
  • Numerous content presentation models must be introduced that are appealing to the digital as well as traditional readers.

To Sum Up:

At present, there are no established rules or guidelines for news content creators as well as digital news publishers. For this reason, questions keep occurring around content aggregating and sharing the best practices for content.

But with a large number of news publishers losing out their revenue, it is essential to find novel ways to reach out to audiences. If you still want to go the content aggregator way, then you must find a solution to collaborate with them so that you can achieve maximum benefits for your business objectives.

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