Yahoo keeps doing some cool things and this is no exception. Last year when they purchased Summly for $30 million from a teenager, I wondered what they would do with it. They obviously had a plan because they have just launched Yahoo Digest for iOS.
Initially, I set out to write a review of the app on here. Then I realized there are way more adequate reviews out there (like this one here from The Verge). After further thought and remembering how they spent $30 million on the technology to build this Digest app, I made the bold assumption that the app would eventually be monetized.
I can think of two ways, neither of which require charging money in the app store.
Adding One Story to a List
Every new push of news has a list of 7-10 news stories of the day to catch up on. What if Yahoo took a native ad-like approach and sold an 11th story? Granted, to work it would need to fit the same short format that real news stories do. They also couldn't be advertorials but be messages from brands about something value-adding to the app user. But, done right, this could be an innovative ad space for brands to play in.
Think of what they could do? What if Coca Cola had a #happiness campaign and produced a short summary to a longer post on ways to be happier? Then, in the subsections they could have tweets from people about #happiness, curated photos from hashtags (or from Coke) and even a campaign video for people to learn more. It would be on brand but a potential value-add.
Use the Progress Circle as a Reward Mechanism
At the bottom of the story list is a circle showing the progress you've made in catching up on the news. After completing the whole reading, the app sends you to a "Did you know?" section to read more news. What if after you read all of the news, you had a brand offering a mobile coupon for their product as a reward for catching up on all of the current events? Being an iOS app, I could see the coupon even living inside of the Passbook on your phone. For example, Starbucks could offer a free small drink or the New York Times could offer a free one-day pass to all of their content. To really work, the reward would have to fit the action but could still be a sponsored space to be used by Yahoo.
I don't see Yahoo charging for the app anytime soon in the name of revenue. Very few publications make money from subscription revenue and I believe Yahoo will find more creative ways to monetize than charging money for app use.
For now, I'm love the app and appreciate that it's ad free. But it's fun to speculate the inevitable.