April 17, 2022
It’s fair to say there’s quite a lot of buzz around Apple News. Preloaded onto all modern Apple devices, Apple News is becoming a vital platform for many publishers, but as integration hasn’t been easy to achieve in the past, some publishers have held back from capitalising on this huge new audience. As the developers behind FlatPlan we've made integration onto the platform as easy as supplying a link to your website, and as we spend every waking moment working with Apple News we thought we'd round up a number of the key reasons you should embrace the platform...
Open an iPhone, iPad or modern Apple computer and you’re likely to find Apple News preloaded onto the home screen. Some 125 million people are active on the platform each month and its prominence, user experience and clever use of notifications make it the primary news and content source for many.
A couple of key things differentiate Apple News audiences from those of, say, Facebook, Google or Instagram: the intent of the audience, and the way content is surfaced to that audience.
What’s great about this audience is their intent. Where your stories compete against a myriad of images and posts from friends on Facebook or Instagram, users in Apple News are there to read news, or medium to long-form content. This leads to strong average active reading times and makes it a great platform for building loyalty from readers. But it’s how Apple News gets you in front of these audiences that really differentiates it from search or social...
Apple News suggests content by combining human curation with an algorithm. Users can follow publications or interests but where Apple News stands out is how it follows user interests and suggests content from all manner of publications on both the main category pages and articles pages, too.
Let’s say you run a digital publication that covers movies. There’s every chance an article you write about James McAvoy could be featured using Apple’s human curation, or shown to people with an interest in movies, an interest in films that James McAvoy starred in, an interest in similar actors or any number of similar tastes built up in Apple’s algorithm. Apple uses anonymised data through search and internet browsing too, so after a short time the app suggests a very good quality of content to users.
Another key traffic driver is Apple’s algorithm-controlled "recirculation area" below articles. Thanks to this algorithm there’s every possibility that your content could sit directly below a story from an internationally-renowned publisher with a serious readership. For example, here’s a story from the small online football publication Club Call under a BBC piece selected by Apple’s editors as a Top Story:
Want to read more about how Apple News surfaces content? Here’s a deep dive into the app from the New York Times.
It’s a common misconception that publishers aren’t able to run advertising on Apple News. In fact, the platform allows advertising across the homepage, category pages and all article pages.
Ads can be trafficked through Apple’s Workbench system, but it’s likely you use Google Ad Manager (formerly Doubleclick for Publishers) - Apple now allow you to traffic ads through your existing system if that’s what you use. 100% of revenue from your direct campaigns go straight to the publisher (Apple has no involvement in these deals), but Apple offer two additional revenue opportunities from inventory they sell:
Backfill: Apple sell campaigns for backfill, with publishers receiving 70% of the revenue
Pooled: Publishers earn revenue from ads that appear in between their stories in areas of the app they don’t control, such as the Today feed or in topic areas such as Fashion or Technology. Publishers share 50% of this revenue, allocated based on time spent with each channel’s articles.
Native campaigns can be served into Apple News as well. These can be delivered as part of your standard publishing workflow - your team just need to tick a button to send them to Apple News when they hit publish in their CMS. Here’s an example from the Telegraph - this story appears in the app the same way as a standard story, but with a native flag shown in listings and on the article.
You can direct further traffic to native campaigns with Apple’s Native units. By putting some of your client’s spend into Apple News you can direct Apple’s audience to their stories, tapping into a largely affluent audience with strong intent, in a brand-safe space. Here’s an example of native ads hosted within the app:
Apple News is now available on around 1.4 billion devices around the world, and according to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, some 5 billion articles are read on the app each month. As traffic continues to grow it’s clear that a solid audience is available in the platform.
Apple News data is not available within Google Analytics, but within a dashboard of its own, with stats sent optionally by email to team members daily, weekly or monthly.
How Shares, Likes and Saves within one of our Apple News channels have been increasing since their integration
New streams of traffic are, of course, always welcome, but how you dig into this data can offer valuable insight into your content on other channels. Apple’s algorithms can expose stories to readers that haven’t performed well on a publisher website or on socials. By monitoring user behaviour when users visit an article Apple can give more reach to the most compelling content, driving spikes of traffic to stories that might have gone unnoticed elsewhere.
Keeping an eye on these stories open up opportunity to re-try seeding them on-site and on socials - tweaking headlines, images or placements to drive traffic to articles, mirroring the effect from Apple News.
Most publishers rely on multiple revenue streams to drive the business with each individual channel working to aid others as much as possible. If approached correctly, Apple News can work to drive value outside of the app, aiding everything from data capture to events to paywall subscriptions.
Here at FlatPlan we bring all manner of publications to Apple News - from fast-moving consumer news publications to titles that operate on freemium models, to B2B industry magazines. Each publication has a set of goals we work to - many of which revolve around building loyal audiences and monetising those audiences.
We offer guidance on how to use Apple News to achieve those goals and tools to help you get there. Here are a couple of examples. Dazed, a consumer style publication wanted to drive Apple News readers to their mailing list. FlatPlan allows them to promote this under every article.
Alternatively, 90Min direct traffic to their main site:
Publishers can of course link within Apple News articles to external pages they want their audience to see. For instance, Creative Review often link out to RSVP links for the regular events they host.
By creating great content and following our guidance, publishers are able to develop an audience in Apple News and then use tools like FlatPlan’s custom footers to derive value from that audience.
Integrating with Apple News used to be a complicated process. Publishers would need to build a bespoke system of their own to handle the induction, and they’d need to take care of their own error reporting. FlatPlan takes care of all this heavy-lifting, handling collection, conversion and delivery.With FlatPlan, feeding content to Apple News is as simple as clicking publish within a CMS. All we require is an RSS feed; a simple output that most CMSs contain by default. We even take care of categorising content and delivering stories to Apple News with an elegant flourish that matches brand designs to a tee. All publishers need to do is what they do best: write and design clear, beautiful digital stories.
FlatPlan helps media businesses get onto Apple News quickly, easily and at the highest quality.