France-based Mobiles Republic, a startup focused on delivering news media applications for mobile devices and other connected platforms, today announced a $3 million Series A funding round, led by XAnge Private Equity and Creathor Ventures. The round will help Mobiles Republic continue to roll out its news aggregation apps on even more platforms, and will also help the company extend its monetization efforts.
Mobiles Republic’s apps, which include News Republic, Biz Report, APPY Geek and Glam Life, are similar to Flipboard and Zite in that they round up new from various sources, but the European company has actually been in business far longer – the company was founded in 2008 – and also places more focus on working with publishers to deliver full-text content, rather than combing a user’s social connections to highlight interesting stories.
The approach of using full content from Mobiles Republic’s pool of more than 300 publisher partners has helped the organization win favor with content producers, Mobiles Republic CEO Gilles Raymond told BetaKit in an interview, since RSS feeds “have a clickthrough rate of three to four percent,” and that’s how a lot of other aggregators collect their content.
“For the end user, our approach guarantees the best user experience and access to the full article,” Raymond said. “For the publishers, it protects the integrity of the brand, and for the writer/journalist the integrity of his content.”
The Mobiles Republic stable of apps also seek to appeal more to users outside of North America than many of its competitors, and the company announced a new partnerships with content partners in Germany back in September of 2011. The company’s apps, the first of which was launched in December of 2010, now see over 100 million page views per month, according to Raymond, and the company has over two million users, and adds about five to ten thousand every day he said. By comparison, Flipboard still seems to be ahead speaking strictly on paper, with five million users as of December.
Part of Mobiles Republic’s appeal for publishers is its ability to monetize content. The company drives monetization efforts through the development of its semantic engine, which helps it offer contextually targeted affiliate marketing links from key advertising partners, including Gameloft and Booking.com. Raymond said that in 2012 the company will focus even more on monetization efforts, paying particular attention to how to make their strategy work better across the platforms where Mobiles Republic apps appear, which include smart TVs and desktop computers in addition to mobile.
Raymond said that should help increase the company’s appeal to publishing partners. “Publishers are our partners and we want to share the generated revenue in a fair way,” he told us. In addition to building out their revenue picture, Mobiles Republic also intends to build its reach, both in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain where its products are currently available, and beyond to new countries. Raymond suggested Asia might be the next target for Mobiles Republic, which makes sense given that it has 2.9 billion mobile subscribers according to recent estimates.
According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s ninth annual State of the News Media report released today, audiences for news media grew in all areas but newspapers. The biggest driver of news media traffic was direct access to content through websites and apps, with news curation apps also making up a significant portion of traffic, and sources like Twitter and Facebook still only driving a surprisingly small nine percent of all news consumption. Online consumption grew 17.2 percent year over year, the highest gainer of any source. That suggests there’s still lots of potential for news-focused apps, but the big challenge for Mobiles Republic will be keeping pace with Flipboard and others, and the key to that may be continuing and expanding an approach that focuses on international localization and building relationships with content sources.