More Publishers Sign On to Apple News

thinkdifferent-whitePlenty of publishers seem willing to gamble on the app-based news feed concept.

What do you do if you’re a news publisher and your ads are at risk of being blocked on a massive scale? You do what several dozen of them are doing, and sign on to push your content through the new Apple News app.

“The hope, from both publishers and Apple, is that Apple’s giant installed base of iPhone and iPad users will naturally gravitate to the app, and then like the way the stuff reads within it,” writes Peter Kafka in Re/Code.

There’s been much discussion around the Apple News app and the similar Instant Articles from Facebook since they were announced in the spring. Many believe that these platforms offer publishers something they can’t refuse. Apple and FB are about to own the news, so you better be there, goes the story.

Others are optimistic that the revenue potential (100% of revenue on publisher-placed ads; 70% on fill-in-the-blanks adverts from Apple’s partners) makes good business sense.

“A few years ago, the News model — where publishers put full stories on Apple’s app and share some of the ad revenue those stories generate — might have been controversial,” Kafka continues. “Now, the ‘distributed’ model for digital media is conventional wisdom — see: Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and more — and the only question is how well News will work.”

While we don’t agree that this is the only question, it is certainly true that app-based newsfeeds have a less than stellar history of adoption.

“While newsreaders attracted a lot of attention from developers a few years ago, almost all of them have fizzled. The only one to get any scale is Flipboard, which has relied on an install deal with Samsung for much of its distribution,” Kafka notes.

“And newsreaders that most people tend to prefer aren’t really newsreaders: Facebook, and to some extent Twitter and Snapchat, have become places to find and consume publishers’ content,” he continues.

Still, with the looming prospect of massive ad blocking – particularly when iOS 9 comes out next month – publishers don’t really have much choice. Publishers, Kafka says, are eager to work with the News app because those Apple ads won’t be blocked.

And when publishers are faced with a do-or-die decision, they’ll do what it takes to be seen. It’s just hard to know the full extent of the cost in terms of off-app traffic loss at this point.