Publishers are underwhelmed with Apple News, according to Digiday. Traffic from the app, which collects content from a myriad of sources, is reportedly poor and the dashboard Apple provides — which should display relevant information, such as traffic demographics — is no better.
Apple News was one of the headline features for iOS 9, launching first in the US and then in Europe a few months later. Publishers (including Business Insider) choose which articles to push to News and they’re able to keep their distinct style. Apple is marketing News as an extension of the publisher’s website, rather than a separate app.
“I don’t think this app will compete with Flipboard and [I] wouldn’t be surprised if Apple stops updating/supporting it by end of next year,” one anonymous publisher told Digiday. Apple keeps promising better data “very soon” but never delivers, according to the report.
Building a compelling third-party news-based experience is hard, as Flipboard has shown. A report from The Wall Street Journal described Flipboard as a “floundering” company that was failing to find a big enough audience for content to reach advertisers. On top of this, Facebook and Google are also moving into hosting content and can, at the click of a button, reach billions of users.
According to Digiday, publishers are seeing one million views per month, a very low figure that is tough to sell advertisements against.
Facebook is having similar issues when it comes to ad revenue, according to the WSJ. The Instant Articles program takes content from publishers and places it inside the Facebook app, allowing for faster load times and, as such, better engagement. Advertisers aren’t convinced, however, and Facebook is having to reconsider how much freedom it gives publishers, according to the report.
Betting against Apple is always a risky move too. News is placed prominently on the iPhone’s home screen and is built into the updated Siri suggestions of iOS 9. Anecdotally, I’ve found myself ending up in the News app by clicking on a story from The Guardian or The Telegraph that has appeared in Siri’s suggestions and its likely many other users have too.
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