Publishers with domain expertise get a boon in Apple News thanks to updates to Topic Groups

May 23, 2023

Apple News uses a variety of methods to surface content to readers to maximise discoverability for publishers. From oft-used algorithms to experienced editors, these avenues to discover content helps publishers cast their net in different ways to attract readers. 

Now, in the latest update to Apple News (available in iOS 16.5 and Ventura 13.4), Topic Groups have been renovated to add additional sections while giving them some personalisation logic to make them more relevant to each reader.

For You section of new Topic Feed in Apple News
The new For You section of Topic Groups in Apple News adds more personalisation. In this example, it's picked up electric cars and air travel as popular subjects within climate change for this reader.

In your News Publisher analytics, you can see how many pageviews you get from the various discovery sources in Apple News. The Today Feed is often the most popular, but Topic Groups provide a valuable source of readers, especially for domain experts.

The old Topic Group was an infinite list of articles displayed in chronological order. The result was a feed that wasn’t personalised for each reader outside of the chosen topic. The new feed reflects the design you see elsewhere in Apple News – two featured stories followed by sub-stories – but more importantly, the logic has been updated to provide new incentives for publishers.

There are now three sections to Topic Groups. First, you have the For You section. This section gives particular weight towards publications the reader follows. So, now it's much easier for smaller publications to appear alongside the big hitters.

It also means it’s even more valuable to make use of FlatPlan’s in-article ‘Follow Now’ buttons. Not only will this help publications appear in the For You section of Topic Groups, but in all other For You sections around Apple News. To further boost the relevance of content surfaced for each reader, this new section also selects stories based on previous reading behaviour and specific interests within that topic. 

The example below is the For You section of a Music feed I follow. It has given me a range of recent articles based on the music publications I follow and the kinds of music content I read.

For You section of new Music Feed within Apple News
The For Your section puts particular weight on 'Followed' publications within the chosen topic.

After that, you’ll be greeted with a Recent Stories section which is a curated section of the latest articles for the topic, followed by the More Stories section which is the old feed but with a more engaging format. 

The new format should make it much more enjoyable to browse through and less laborious on the eyes. A range of thumbnail sizes is used to ensure the design doesn’t look monotonous and feels more natural for the eyes to scan through. 

It's a welcome update and we’ll be closely monitoring the impact of this on publishers, especially those with subject expertise. Follow our Twitter and LinkedIn channels for the latest insights and updates on Apple News.

Next steps...

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