Will Oremus, Slate, starts his article with this provocative subtitle:
The world’s most valuable company is wooing the media with a human touch and a huge audience. One thing it hasn’t delivered: money.
A few more callouts:
One platform in particular has exploded as a news source in the past year, and it promises an antidote to some of the poisonous dynamics that Facebook had set in motion. That platform is Apple News.
Launched to rather tepid fanfare three years ago, Apple’s mobile news app has recently surged in popularity and influence, if publishers’ traffic figures are any indication. Sources at several news outlets say they’ve seen their audience on Apple News multiply in 2018 alone. Some now say it has become one of their top traffic sources, alongside Facebook and Google. At Slate, which disclosed its data for this story, page views on Apple News have roughly tripled since September 2017, and the app recently surpassed Facebook as a driver of readership.
Sounds great! But:
There is, of course, a catch. Whereas Facebook sent hordes of readers from its news feed to publishers’ websites, Apple tends to keep them inside its app. And so far, publishers have found that’s not a lucrative place to be. Although it’s been two years since Apple partnered with NBCUniversal to sell ads inside the app, several sources at media outlets told me that they’re seeing little to no ad revenue from Apple News.
In a nutshell, the complaint appears to be Apple’s relative scarcity of ads. Which I appreciate. But a publisher’s got to keep the lights on, got to pay those bills.
Apple News doesn’t support some of the common ad formats or systems that dominate ad sales on the web, and not all media companies find it worthwhile to develop and sell custom ads just for Apple News. (Those that do can keep all the revenue or they can let Apple sell them, in which case Apple takes a 30 percent cut.) As Matt Karolian, the Boston Globe’s director of new initiatives, told me, “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”
Early days for Apple News. I suspect they will respond to the market, or they will see demand fall.
I’m not a fan of the “capture and keep” approach used by both Apple News and Google AMP. It might be the novelty of all links pointing to the search hub, as opposed to the original publisher. I like to support the folks who wrote the original article by pointing readers back to the source, which is why I actively try to find and post the original links in all Loop stories, as well as in Twitter posts.