How LION members can reach new readers with SmartNews

The SmartNews partner program helps publishers reach a bigger audience and earn new revenue.

November 3, 2022 by LION Publishers

SmartNews screenshot

This post is sponsored by SmartNews, a news aggregation app that helps its local news partners reach a bigger audience and earn additional revenue. Learn more and apply» 

Finding new readers is one of the biggest challenges for independent news publishers — but SmartNews aims to make it a little easier. By joining the SmartNews partner program, LION members can reach new audiences, and get paid for it!

SmartNews is a “news discovery” app for iOS and Android devices with millions of users in the U.S. Hundreds of publishers have joined SmartNews’s partner program, which presents their stories in an instantly-loading format that mobile readers love. As part of the program, LION members can receive regular payment of $2 per 1,000 page views of their content on SmartNews upon joining and submitting an RSS feed.

You can get started distributing your content natively on the SmartNews platform by following a few simple steps:

  • Step 2: Online agreement. Once validated as a LION member, SmartNews will email you a link to an agreement that allows the content to be distributed directly through the SmartNews app in exchange for payment. LION members receive regular payment of $2 per 1,000 page views, or $250 per fiscal quarter (payments are made quarterly). Please note, SmartNews will insert its advertisements in the content, and our business model is advertising-based.
  • Step 3: Validation and launch. LION members will be contacted by SmartNews with any feedback needed to validate their RSS feed before going live on SmartNews. Support is provided by the SmartNews Partner Team via email.
  • Step 4: Post-launch. SmartNews uses its local news curation algorithm and a combination of push notifications to get partners’ stories in front of local, regional and national readers.

Join today to become a SmartNews partner publisher — or read on for more details about SmartNews from Bernie Davis, Executive Director of U.S. Media Business Development.

How does SmartNews get more eyeballs on local stories than publishers could do alone?

At SmartNews we use the term “news discovery” to describe a combination of machine and human editorial processes we use to deliver news and information that’s interesting and relevant to a wide variety of lean-in news readers. How we help publishers is by doing our best to live up to our mission, which is to deliver the world’s quality information to people who need it.

For LION members, their local stories are presented to users who’ve personalized SmartNews by opting in to receive localized news and push notifications. 

Furthermore, local stories can bubble up in a few other ways. First of all, publishers themselves can be “followed” so that their content reaches people who’ve asked to see more of it in the app. Secondly, LION publishers stories would appear across hundreds of topics like The Supreme Court, Mental Health, Education, as well as lighter topics, such as Gardening and Pets. 

Additionally, we have a Content team with backgrounds in news and journalism that is constantly monitoring our partner network for high-quality stories about topics local publishers tend to cover voraciously. These range from human interest to social justice causes and other key news subjects that we like to highlight from local publications.

To sum it up, as a user, you get a mix of top local news, national breaking stories, and a wide variety of content across a number of topics. The “discovery” element is important to us because that means you’re always finding new and interesting things to read, which we hope establishes a healthy news habit in your use of the app. LION publishers are a vital part of this mix.

Not all the content in SmartNews is in the native presentation. Why is it a better deal for them to join the partner program and have their content hosted natively?

That is a great question and it’s one we hear a lot. For the use case that SmartNews offers, our readers like the uniformity of the content and the instant loading. As much as we love the web, it can be disruptive to someone who has set aside time to catch up on the news and have to wait for pages to load.

Also, when a publisher’s content is hosted natively, load times decrease, which can lead to an increase in performance as SmartNews users strongly prefer to read content in the native model. It’s fast and clean. Worth noting, partners also receive priority for push notifications.

We also encourage publishers to take advantage of some cross-promotional elements that we offer in the feed itself. This is typically used to promote newsletters and podcasts. For LION members, SmartNews can be a source of new revenue and reach, as well as a funnel for the publisher’s own audience development. We have gone to great lengths to build a highly-engaged audience. When SmartNews users discover new ways to interact with publishers, that’s great for everyone.

What types of content generally perform best on the SmartNews app?

Whether it’s local, regional, or national, stories based around, tied to, or adjacent to the news cycle tend to perform best in SmartNews. SmartNews is of course a news app at its core, and users are actively engaged in content that is based around the major news cycles. 

Human interest stories also perform well, as do trends and investigations. We’d be lying if we said stories that generally fall under “true crime” don’t perform well. In all cases, we really like to highlight locally sourced news; it’s part of our DNA as most of our team have worked for publishers most of their careers. I was a reporter and editor of a local newspaper in Union, New Jersey, in my very first job.

We also like to dispel the myth that mobile readers only engage with short form content on their devices. SmartNews is proof that long-form, in-depth reporting can and will thrive in a mobile format.

How can publishers learn more about the program or apply to join?

For any questions about our partner program, feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected] or our team at [email protected]. If you’re ready to join, please apply here to become a SmartNews partner publisher.

LION offers sponsorships to software and service providers, educational institutions and other businesses that aim to serve independent news publishers like LION’s members. Learn more about our sponsorships policy and sponsorship opportunities at

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