Apple News Leaves a Bad Taste for Publishers

Apple-news-1080x675Since the launch of iOS 9, publishers have been less than thrilled with Apple’s news publishing platform.


That’s the word used off the record to describe one publisher’s experience with the latest iteration of Apple’s news feed, according to Lucia Moses in Digiday.

“For that publisher, that means under 1 million views a month — not terrible, but not worth it considering the work involved to train staff in Apple’s process and to prepare the content for the app, much less take advantage of other features that Apple offered to entice publishers to use the app,” Moses notes.

At issue is the much-talked about Apple News app that promised loads of traffic and a seemingly captive audience for publishers. When it was announced earlier this year, big name publishers signed on but the industry was divided on the wisdom of such a move. At the time there was a lot of discussion about Apple and Facebook making a grab for news traffic and leaving publishers with little choice but to comply.

Seems some of the objections may have been right.

“They’re not generating a ton of views or traffic, and the data they provide is basically nonexistent,” another publisher said. “They claim they’re working out kinks, and they probably will. I’m disappointed, but I’m not giving up on it.”

One sticking point is a lack of clear measurement tools that would go a long way toward allowing publishers to sell ads and monetize their presence. Apple promised this kind of functionality, but Moses reports it’s been “delayed.”

“The comScore tagging isn’t ready, we got delayed data on usage, and it’s still very limited, and selling ads isn’t easy,” one publishing exec said to Moses. “I don’t think this app will compete with Flipboard and wouldn’t be surprised if Apple stops updating/supporting it by end of next year. News aggregation is tough, and while they don’t necessarily need the revenue, it’s not a good business.”

There are some bright spots, Moses notes, including Cory Haik of The Washington Post who says his organization is “pleased with how our content feels in Apple News and excited that it’s reaching new audiences.”

Still, with big names like Joe Ripp of Time Inc. publicly stating his frustration with the platform, there is trouble ahead. As one industry executive noted to Moses: “Platforms don’t necessarily understand what it means to be a publisher and what’s important to publishers.”