A News Reading App, with Ads Targeted on Behavior

A unique news-reading app with ads targeted on behavior is expected to launch in beta today.

Called Inform, the Web-based platform lets consumers discover news and other content of interest through a process it calls “concept-mapping.” Users can search news and blog sites or create personalized content channels by specifying topics and topic groups they want to learn about in the future. They can also look at articles within the reader, but the content maintains publishers’ branding, unlike with RSS.

Inform will ultimately serve ads based on its users’ news reading behavior. Since Inform requires visitors be logged in, the company can create data profiles based on the articles they view and the personalized channels they set up.

“Anytime we’re showing a publisher’s page, we’re not monetizing that at all, but there are all these aggregated pages you’re looking at that we can [serve] ads on,” said Neal Goldman, founder and CEO. “If you go into the customized area, and ask us to TiVo the news for you and deliver articles, we start to really understand your interests.”

Ad inventory will include skyscrapers, banners and other standard display units. Executives said they would wait until they accumulated users and data before targeting ads based on behavior. The company has also not yet hired any ad sales people. Initially, the reader will carry ads from a number of networks.

Goldman founded the company along with Joe Einhorn. The two were also behind Capital IQ, a Bloomberg-like financial information services firm they sold last year to McGraw Hill.

Goldman said video and RSS capabilities will be baked into the beta platform by year-end. Inform is optimized for Internet Explorer in Windows.

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