Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PND Technology: Apture

My weekly (kind of) recap of some of the interesting technology I've heard about at the tech meet-ups I've been going to (NYTech)

Apture is a great application that enables a publisher to offer a more in-depth experience to readers and browsers of their web site without them leaving the page. For the publisher a simple line of code added to their site gives 'look-up' capability to any highlighted segment of content on their page. One neat thing about the Apture application is that it can 'look-forward' and return the more detailed and deeper material (again in a pop-up window not by taking the user somewhere else) in an appropriate to the content manner. For example, if a reader highlights a photo link the pop up can produce a photo image viewer that is optimized for the content and the appropriate usage. (Best shown in the plug-in).

In allowing the user to access instantaneously more information, the Apture application provides a far more engaging experience for the user. Another aspect of the technology, is that each successive pop-up can be searched in a 'Russian doll effect'. So in the example on the live demo, if the user looks up information about Alfred Hitchcock and in the pop-up there is more information they want to search - including content such as photos, music and videos - they can do this sequentially. All without leaving the original website.

For a publisher implementing the technology, they can also 'manage' how the deeper information is displayed in each pop-up. For example, a publisher may want to highlight their own content they may have that is relevant to the search and they can present their links or content first. This can drive additional page views for the publisher which for usage statistics and for advertising could be important. The company says users will stay on a site 2-3x longer when this technology is implemented.

Each pop-up does not replace the earlier one and so the user can always see where they came from and navigate easily backwards and search other interesting links in earlier windows. The user can also re-size at will depending on their preference and there is an example of how that functionality is appropriate for maps and street view for example.

Apture is being used by the Financial Times, Thomson Reuters, NY Times, ReadWriteWeb, The Nation. The company also launched a browser plug-in which they claim will change the way you search the web. I'm playing with it now.

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