For the past ten years, Threat Level editor at Wired, Ryan Singel had been involved in nearly everything a writer is exposed to in the business. He’s discovered that transparency and privacy matter and that tools are needed in order to help writers manage being their “own editors, photo desk, and publicist”. His solution? To leave Wired and create Contextly, an editorial tool created by digital journalists for journalists — and it’s launching today in beta mode.
Singel says that as readers want more context in the news they’re consuming, the reporter’s role of putting the day’s story into a larger picture is difficult when the news cycle is never-ending and speed is essential. For writers, the concern is figuring out just how can you share with readers other recent pieces you’ve written on a particular topic? Take what you’re reading right now? Just how would you know if I wrote other Wired-related or journalistic-focused pieces?
That’s where Contextly comes in. Started in 2010, it says it’s an editorial solution to the problem that “marries editorial control with serendipity”. Today, the company is releasing its first plugin, called “Contextly Related Links”, basically a related link service for your blog or site. For the past few months, it had been running in secret on Wired, BoingBoing, Cult of Mac websites, and others with satisfactory results, including increased page views and time spent on site. Today, interested users can request an invite to check out this service.
There are two different forms of this new product: the “read more box” and the “living sidebar”. The first one, “read more box” is pictured above — it’s a box that sits below your content and allows you to see other related stories. There is another tab on this box that offers up additional content which is displayed based on an algorithm developed by Contextly. The second option, the “living sidebar”, is similar to the first and is displayed in-post linking to content that you choose.
But wait, doesn’t this look like something you might find with Zemanta or other related links widgets? Of course, but Singel believes that none has been designed with the specific needs of the journalist in mind — they all seem to be more for e-commerce sites. He says that editorial control is maintained throughout the process while also being easy to use. Metrics are also included with the service and specific to publishers and writers. Reports are sent out daily, weekly, and monthly and Singel says that he will be building out data tools to provide better reporting that is useful to a writer’s needs.
This service is available today. If you are self-hosting your WordPress site, then you can search for “Contextly Related Links” in the Plugins section. Based on its publisher beta sign-up form, it appears that this plugin, along with other tools, could be implemented for Moveable Type, Blogger, and other publishing software. Other things in the pipeline for Contextly include email list subscriptions, non-annoying advertising offers, selling conference tickets, sign-ups for beta releases, and whitepaper programs.
With respect to pricing, the service is free for the first 30 days. After that, it varies from $19 per month for a personal account to the enterprise level.
Contextly has a small team and has not raised any funds yet.
Photo credit: NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images