The complete guide to publishing on Apple News

April 12, 2023

Table of contents

Why should Apple News be part of your content strategy?
How does Apple News curate content?
How to publish content to Apple News
How to use Apple News to drive conversions
How to use Apple News to monetise content


When Apple News was launched in 2015, many readers were still going directly to news websites or using apps of news outlets. By the end of 2022, Apple News had surpassed BBC News as the most popular news app in the UK. As a result, active readership on the app swelled beyond 125 million.

That’s why major publishers and media outlets like Dazed Digital, ITV News and Hello! have been using Apple News to expand their readership. But Apple News is more than just an opportunity to grow your readership. With the help of FlatPlan, a preferred provider for Apple News, it can also be used to drive conversions to meet commercial goals.

Why should Apple News be part of your content strategy?

News apps and aggregators have been around for a little while now, and their goal has always been to try and make media consumption easier for users by gathering content from a variety of sources, and then compiling them into a single app. But there’s a few of them out there which can make things tricky as audiences are then spread across several platforms. 

Thankfully, Apple News is one of the most popular news aggregators so it provides a valuable opportunity for publishers to reach new audiences. But it works a little differently to most other news apps. 

While many other content aggregators act as a portal that drives traffic directly to your site, articles on Apple News are designed and formatted to match the elegant layout seen on the app. This is called Apple News Format and it comes with a range of benefits for publishers which we’ll go over throughout this article. This includes fast loading times and high engagement because readers aren’t being taken off the app.

However, this can present a challenge to publishers. Content must be converted to meet the Apple News Format which can add additional strain on resources. That’s why FlatPlan’s no-code, no-plugins system automatically converts content to meet Apple’s requirements. Crucially, this means the editorial workflow for publishers doesn’t need to change to accommodate Apple News.

Furthermore, when working with FlatPlan, publishers can also make use of bespoke conversion elements. These are graphical CTAs that can be placed anywhere within the content, thus giving high viewability, and the opportunity to drive readers wherever you want. So whether your commercial goal is to drive more subscriptions or to drive traffic to your latest podcast, these CTA elements can help you achieve that.

As a B2B publication, Apple News offers a unique route to new audiences. FlatPlan created a fully-branded channel that helps funnel readers to our newsletter. They also helped us increase podcast subscriptions with embeds on each article.
Jason Clampet, Chief Product Officer and Co-founder, Skift

This makes Apple News more than just another news aggregator to reach new audiences. Publishers who work with FlatPlan can instead funnel all these new readers towards commercial goals and drive more revenue.

Benefits of joining Apple News with FlatPlan:

  • Expand your readership with 125 million active people on Apple News
  • Funnel your new readers wherever you want with bespoke CTA elements that sit within the content and therefore have high viewability
  • No code or plugins are needed so your CMS can remain fast and light
  • Instantly publish content to Apple News from your CMS so there’s no additional steps to your editorial workflow
  • Automatically convert and optimise your content thus increasing performance on Apple News while not pulling vital development resources from other projects
  • Fully-branded content carrying your fonts, brand colours, logos and visual language helps foster brand consistency
  • Distinct branding can be created for different categories to help readers understand what kind of content they are reading from you

Publish to Apple News from any CMS with FlatPlan

Major publishers around the world are converting readers into subscribers with FlatPlan without changing their editorial workflow.

Find out how

How does Apple News curate content?

Apple News uses a range of methods to curate content for different parts of the app. Algorithms are used for trending stories while reader-selected topics and channels dictate what content is shown in the ‘For You’ section. 

This allows Apple News to find a nice balance between data-driven decisions and user-driven decisions. So the feed might show some of the biggest news stories of the day due to their gravitas alongside lighter news, such as music, because it’s a topic that particular reader has selected.

However, the Top Stories of the day works a little differently; these stories are curated by human editors. This might sound excessive to some, but curating news is serious business, especially in a world with so much misinformation. Laura Kern, Apple News’ Editor in Chief, and her deputy have extensive editorial experience in news media. This means editors can use their existing knowledge of editorship to gain their attention, and if they do, it can generate a massive spike in attention.

Readers can also control what content Apple News surfaces for them by liking or disliking articles they read. This is then supplemented by an algorithm that keeps track of previously read content as well as search history. 

This can lead to high engagement as all of these factors are working together to ensure every piece of content is relevant to that particular reader’s needs and interests. This is then backed up by the People Also Read section to keep readers on related topics.

How to publish content to Apple News

As with all Apple products, Apple News is billed as a premium news aggregator. That’s why they have human editors, and it’s also why they have Apple News+ – a subscription service that allows readers to access content behind paywalls.

The downside to this is that there’s a bit of a barrier to entry. The first barrier is that Apple typically only accepts established news brands who produce high quality journalism. If you’re not sure if you fit this category, don’t worry. As a preferred provider for Apple News, we can help build a case for your entry.

The other obstacle is the need to convert content to meet Apple News’ format requirements. This is because content on Apple News is displayed natively which is what gives it that sleek, easy-on-the-eye look that makes readers keep coming back. But again, FlatPlan has a solution for this. We’re able to automatically convert and optimise your content to match the Apple News format without the need for any code or plugins on your CMS that might otherwise slow it down.

In essence, we can handle the distribution of your content to Apple News, and there’s very little input needed from your side except to press publish like you would do normally.

FlatPlan has opened up our content to a wide new audience – crucially, without infringing on our day-to-day operations or draining our resource.
Sophie Vokes-Dudgeon, Head of Digital, HELLO!

To learn more about how you can start publishing to Apple News, read our technical guide here.

How to use Apple News to drive conversions

Like many news apps, readers of Apple News can choose to follow certain topics or specific publications, and this can certainly help build a loyal audience and build brand awareness. But Apple News doesn’t come with any native tools to help drive conversions. 

At FlatPlan, having spoken to many publishers, we understood that growing your readership wasn’t enough. These new audiences needed to be converted into subscribers or pushed onto other content streams like podcasts and videos so that commercial goals can be met. That’s why we created bespoke conversion elements that sit within the content. These graphical CTAs can be fully customised and are used to direct readers anywhere you want.

CTA elements that sit within Apple News content helps publishers direct readers to key commercial goals.

This one we did for the Premier League directs readers to their app, but you could use it to boost subscriptions, newsletter signups, social follows or even just to encourage readers to visit your site.

FlatPlan conversion tools can direct readers to any of the following:

  • Visit websites
  • Sign up to newsletters
  • Visit subscription landing pages
  • View publisher channels, articles or issues
  • Download apps
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Follow a publisher on Apple News
  • Read related articles
  • Anything else not on this list can probably be done, just have a chat with us to find out more

How to use Apple News to monetise content

One of the benefits of Apple News’ native content is the ability to place ads within the articles thus giving you an additional revenue stream. Ads are managed by Workbench which integrates with Google Ad Manager so that you can keep all your campaign management in one place.

There are a range of options available so you can pick and choose which ones suit your publication. It’s also good to know that Apple doesn’t apply ad serving fees.

Where can ads be placed in Apple News?

  • For You/Today feed
  • Digest and Spotlight sections
  • Topic feeds curated by Apple News
  • Publisher channels
  • Publisher articles
  • Swiping between channels and articles
  • Top videos
  • Must-see videos
  • News widget on the Today View (available for interstitial video ads only)

There are three types of ads that you can monetise in Apple News. 

Direct Sold (100% of revenue)

Keep 100% of the revenue from ads that you’ve sold directly to run on your Apple News channels and articles. 

Backfill (70% of revenue)

If you enable backfill ads, you allow Apple to sell ads within your content. You get to keep 70% of the revenue from ads sold in this way.

Apple News+ publishers can select different backfill options for free users and Apple News+ subscribers:

  • Turn ad backfill on or off
  • Turn pre-roll video backfill on or off
  • Turn outstream video backfill on or off

Pooled (50% of revenue)

You can earn additional revenue from ads that appear outside your articles such as in the Today feed or in Apple-curated topic feeds. The available revenue is allocated based on the time readers spend within your articles, and Apple shares 50% of this revenue.

What ad formats are available in Apple News?

  • Standard banner
  • Double banner
  • Large banner
  • Large - Direct response template banner
  • Carousel banner
  • Medium rectangle banner (MREC)
  • IAB 300x250 banner
  • IAB 320x50 banner
  • IAB 320x320 banner
  • IAB 300x600 banner
  • IAB 728x90 banner
  • IAB 970x250 banner
  • Interstitial banner
  • Outstream video ads
  • Pre-roll video ads
  • Sponsored content (Native) ads

If you want to learn more about Apple News and how it can help your publication grow, get in touch with the expert team at FlatPlan.

Next steps...

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.

  1. Are you an existing Apple News publisher?
    Our expert team can audit your existing Apple News channel to ensure your integration is stable, determine how optimised your channel is, and provide recommendations that will help you make the most of your setup. Book a free audit now.
  2. Looking to integrate Apple News with your media business?
    Leading publishers use FlatPlan to grow their media business by leveraging the power of Apple News. With help from reader engagement tools, we help publishers reach new readers, nurture them into loyal followers and then funnel them to first-party data strategies on owned properties. Book a free consultation now.
  3. Still learning about Apple News?
    We're always providing insider knowledge and expert advice to our network of publishers. If you want to access that same material, head over to our Article pages, download our free Guide to Apple News eBook or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
  4. Know someone who might find this article useful? Share it via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social network you use.

More resources

How Publishers can Optimise Content for Apple News

Learn from FlatPlan, a preferred provider of Apple News, about how to maximise performance and drive audience development.
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