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Which tech startups are shaping the future of online publishing?

Among the throng of start-ups pushing discounted deals, hyper-local info and group messaging, there’s a sector of quietly accomplished companies with their focus planted squarely on the business of online publishing.

An online publisher launching today is spoilt for choice when it comes to nifty tools and technologies to help them along, and position themselves perfectly to satisfy the appetite of the web’s power users - while an established site is left to play catch up.

The commenting revolution

In recent months, comments have been under a microscope, with the trolls finally having out-stayed their welcome. TechCrunch and IPC Media have trialled Facebook as a comment portal, requiring readers to log in, using their real names - while other sites, such as Engadget, even tried turning off comments altogether.

However, making it harder in any way to leave a comment can result in fewer comments, less interaction, and generally, less interest in the article they’re attached to.

Using Facebook for comments may be a step in the right direction, and start-ups like Disqus, and Livefyre and Badgeville are on the case, upping the social interaction factor even further, and unlocking the real value of comments.

Already used by CNN and Fox News, Disqus is a global comment system that takes a giant leap toward making commenting more engaging, while connecting conversations across the web.

A user logs in once through Twitter or Facebook, and they’re ready to post a comment anywhere Disqus is enabled. It’s easily shareable, and all the user’s activity is brought together in their profile, which others can follow.

Livefyre is the new kid on the block - built around chat technology for real-time commenting action. Users can mention each other with a Twitter-like 'at reply' to pull each other into the conversation, and, according to the company, immensely increasing the quality of conversations on the sites that use it.

Another level of interaction

Badgeville has introduced the hot concept of gamification to content sites this year (like and TheNextWeb), offering a white label social rewards and analytics platform that promises to increase the loyalty and engagement of a site’s audience.

BadgevilleBadegville - gamifying contentBadgeville can track and reward users for reading articles and commenting, driving almost any user behaviour with game mechanics, tapping into the reader’s competitive nature. The system also encourages users to share links, and increase their loyalty to your site - pushing its possible uses far beyond comments, and into comprehensive user interaction.

Curation and the ‘copy/paste’

Currently in Beta, Storify has risen to prominence after its technology was put to use by journalists during major world events this year, like the New Zealand and Japanese earthquakes. Storify offers the ability to pull together social content from across the web to create a dynamic, shareable ‘story’ around a particular event or subject.

Tynt is the tool of choice for sites like Sports Illustrated, The Sun and NBC Universal, to track where users are copying text to paste elsewhere, helping to increase traffic coming back, and gain insight into what users are most interested in.

Cashing in on rich media

VideoPlaza, a Tech Start-Up 100 finalist, allows publishers to monetise their video content, no matter where it is; and Stipple, a clever tech play that allows editors to label, monetise and share images is also worth a look - it takes just a few seconds to create a label and reveal the content you want to share, whether it be the latest tweet from someone in the image or a link to where you can buy the t-shirt they’re wearing.

The start-up scene is definitely one worth keeping an eye on, with disruptive technologies propelling publishing forward online, and into the future.

Skimlinks is an AOP associate member, and is a technology start-up itself, providing a simple service that allows all kinds of online publishers to tap into affiliate marketing as a viable revenue stream. For more information, visit