December 17, 2022
Apple News is a unique traffic source for publishers. Media businesses don’t need readers to seek them and follow them to gain readership - Apple News offers a number of routes to readers that quite simply wouldn’t be possible to find elsewhere.
Below we’ll walk you through how stories are surfaced to readers in the app, and as a bonus we’ll explain how to ensure you maximise readers through each and every route.
So first of all, a hello. We’re FlatPlan, an Apple preferred partner that helps media businesses including Bauer Media and The Atlantic reach Apple News. Our tool works with any CMS and maximises reach, ad impressions and revenue from the platform. As a team we’re Apple News obsessives – there really isn’t much we don’t know about the app!
With that in mind, here is how stories reach readers in Apple News.
There’s one big difference between Apple News and platforms like Google News – humans. Apple’s international editors handpick stories from all manner of publications and surface these stories in a prominent area of the app. Stories could be a unique, in-depth take on a huge story from the day, or a deep dive into a fascinating feature, and it isn’t just the biggest publishers in the world that get featured - small publications and even B2B titles can find their way into this space. And with an audience of 150m, expect a large influx of traffic if stories are chosen for this spot.
This area is also controlled by Apple editors and, as you’d expect tends to be the very biggest stories from the days news agenda. You’re likely to find heavily hitters like BBC News, Washington Post or CNN here.
Apple’s news platform is split into a large number of editorial ‘topic’ groups. Readers are questioned about interests on sign up, and the app tracks interests based on interactions. If a reader tends to view lots of stories on movies, they are likely to start seeing Movies as a topic group. If they follow a few music publications on News they’ll start to see a Music group. These groups don’t just show stories from the publications they follow, they show stories from all manner of titles.
Personalisation goes even further on Apple News. Readers are shown recommendations based on Safari and app usage as well as reading habits. The For You section of the app brings all of this together, so a user who searches for recipes on Safari or uses multiple restaurant apps is likely to be shown stories related to food content. This hyper targeted set of stories tends to attract engaged readers, a great opportunity to drive followers to your publication.
Another unique aspect to Apple News is that every article contains a number of links to other publications. Apple’s algorithm surfaces stories in this area based on relevance, quality and reader interest, and a story can be chosen from any publication on News. This means a story from the most niche of publications has the chance to appear on a story from the very largest.
One of the strongest signals a reader can send to Apple is a ‘Follow’. If a reader lands on one of your stories and then follows your publication they will see lots more of your content. Apple’s UI doesn’t make following too easy but FlatPlan’s tools include an inline Follow mechanic. We show these prompts to users as they read stories and with a single click we turn them from readers into followers.
As well as seeing more stories in their feed a shortcut with the publishers’ logo shows on the app, leading people to the next route.
If a reader searches for your publication, clicks the aforementioned shortcut or stumbles upon it in any other way they’ll reach your publication homepage or, to use Apple’s lingo, your ‘channel’.
This contains all of your stories which can be split into sections based on topic or tag. By default this listing is chronological but our free ebook explains how to highlight your very strongest stories at the top of the listing. It’s very straightforward.
Apple’s inbuilt search engine surfaces stories based on keyword. Well-written, recent stories with correct metadata are most likely to show up here.
The Apple News home screen shows a set of 6 stories that are currently popular across the app. These change regularly, and as this area of the app is prominent, a story that starts to trend can make its way to the top position. Stories are displayed without images so punchy headlines that don’t rely too heavily on accompanying thumbnails can gain a huge number of clicks from here.
Any user that scrolls to the right of their app screens will see a prominent display of Apple News stories. These are a mix of Top Stories (chosen by Apple News editors), a “Missed This?” story (chosen by editors) and For You stories, based on the publications or topics they follow. A widget at the top of iPhone screens also shows Top Stories, a hugely prominent space.
These routes to traffic are a reason publishers see large jumps in traffic from Apple News. Want to know how we can help you reach the platform? Get in touch for a FlatPlan demo.
No matter what stage you're at in your discovery of Apple News, we'll help you get the information you need to make the right decision for your media business.