Apple News, the technology giant’s news aggregation app for iOS and macOS devices, is turning out to be a double-edged sword for publishers: It can dramatically increase readership, but at the cost of already precarious revenues. Moreover, readership has grown markedly over time, while ad revenues for publishers have not.
That was the conundrum addressed in a Slate article that was topped with a Snow White-inspired image of a witch’s hand holding an Apple logo — and ironically publicized via a late-night push notification from the Apple News app. According to the publication, “the world’s most valuable company [now] is getting news stories for free from publishers, many of which are struggling to make ends meet, and giving them little to no money in return.”
Slate says that it’s now receiving millions of page views from Apple News, the sort of spike publishers would generally love to have, but seeing almost no compensation — a problem that affects multiple media outlets. The claim is that Apple News hasn’t offered support for common ad formats, compared with Google’s AMP, which hosts alternate versions of news articles but supports common ad formats that publishers can monetize.
Because of ad challenges, Slate says it makes more from one article viewed 50,000 times on its own site than from all of its articles viewed 6 million times in a month on Apple News. Additionally, while multiple publishers have reported gigantic readership increases — doubling or quadrupling of Apple News traffic over the last year, or half of a given day’s readership from Apple News — those readers typically stay inside Apple’s app, rather than coming back to visit the publication itself.
For some publishers, Apple’s acquisition of paid monthly magazine subscription app Texture may provide reason for hope, as might the prospect of setting up individual subscriptions within Apple News, or striking a special paid content deal with Apple. But for the many others that can’t get readers to pay for monthly access across entire libraries of content, merely finding ways to get fairly compensated for each reader hitting each article would be a marked improvement over the status quo.