Axel Springer’s news aggregator app, Upday, which comes pre-installed on Samsung devices, is now turning a profit and developing an enhanced ad offer.

Upday is essentially an RSS feed with certain criteria that publishers must meet before they are able to upload to the service. On top of this, editors curate and summarise top news across the platform, or stories are served in interest-based collections.  

Digiday reported that the news service now has 25 million monthly active users to whom content from 4,000 publishers is served. In the strongest cases, Upday can bring in as much as 10% of a publisher’s mobile referral traffic.

Pre-loaded on the Korean electronics firm’s Galaxy range of smartphones and available as an app for Android, the service has extensive reach, despite being closed off to Apple users;there is also the possibility that it will in future feature on Samsung’s smart fridges. It has hinted at plans to extend its offer to a news product for other platforms and a podcast aggregator.

The partnership has been fundamental to the company, according to chief revenue officer Aneta Nowobilska. “It’s allowed us to grow a little cash cow, cultivating users who have grown very attached to the platform over the first three years as we’ve been learning how to retain users. It’s been the monetization engine to make us profitable.”

But the company’s plans go further. “We expect to multiply in terms of users and revenue; we’re going to explode our reach,” she added. “Our business models are a little bit of guesswork, but we’re positive we can grow very significantly.”

In the final quarter of 2018, the company claimed that it had reached profitability though precise figures are as yet undisclosed; what it has said, however, is that over the year, Upday tripled revenues year on year. This has allowed it to grow its staff on the editorial and the revenue side of the equation.

Revenues come from an 80:20 split of programmatic sales and direct content partnerships. Most ads appear in a similar format to stories, in card form, through which users swipe – ad pricing varies according to the prominence among stories and the level of targeting, but Digiday reported that the average CPM is between €16 and €18. In addition, interest categories are a reliable guide for targeting to users’ interests.

“We know our inventory very well in terms of every ad slot,” Nowobilska said. “If a client wants super-high conversions, we know the placement to recommend. If they just want reach, but with a low budget, we can pick where to go.”

Recently, Samsung’s competitor Apple announced an enhancement of its digital news aggregator Apple News, which comes pre-loaded on iPhones, with the launch of Apple News +, a subscription service that offers publishers a cut depending on the traffic each draws in. Available in the US, subscribers get access to more than 300 premium titles including The New Yorker, WIRED and Vogue, as well as Time, The Atlantic and People.

Sourced from Digiday, WARC