Yesterday, Apple announced its aptly named revamp of the vilified Newsstand app, Apple News. While it presents a better experience for users and publishers than the Newsstand app, it may not be the panacea marketers are looking for. As you scramble to determine how, or if, you need to integrate Apple News into your content distribution strategy, here are a few questions you’re probably asking:
1. What kind of content can I publish?
Slated to arrive this fall in the iOS 9 release, the app will use the new Apple News Format™ allowing for custom fonts, multi-touch gestures and responsive layouts that adjust for iPhones and iPads, no plans announced for the Mac. Publishers can post content featuring photos and galleries, infographics, audio, video, maps, parallax and animation clips. The app distributes articles loaded to the app and pulls in content from all over the Internet to feed millions of topics delivered to readers via a customized news stream named, For You.
2. Who can publish on Apple News?
Currently, The New York Times is planning to offer 30 free articles a day through the app and other publishers, like ESPN and Condé Nast have all ready signed on. Anyone can publish on the Apple News app, but as with the previous Newsstand and other news apps, the trick will be getting noticed among the thousands of other publishers. However, once you are noticed, the app will make notifications of new issues or stories more visually noticeable than in the previous Newsstand app.
3. Will I have access to user data?
With Apple’s focus on user privacy, a publisher won’t have access to the granular user data provided by other news services like Facebook’s Paper or LinkedIn Pulse. In fact, Apple emphasized during the announcement that personalization will solely rely on anonymized data to assist in improving the user experience — not for the benefit of third parties. This may make it more difficult to target specific groups or harvest data for use in other channels. You’ll have a demographic view of readers but not a reader list you can use for email follow-up activities.
4. What is the revenue structure?
Apple has yet to announce how they will monetize the new app or their plans to sell advertising on the platform. Currently, publishers will keep 100 percent of the revenue from advertising they sell themselves within their articles and 70 percent of revenue from platform-driven sales. The app will give publishers the ability to promote subscriptions, newsletters and other direct reader interactions. It’s still unclear how the app will handle payments for subscriptions and paywalls.
5. Who owns my content?
A big concern for marketers around Apple News is ownership. Once you drop your content in the Apple News app, it belongs to Apple. That means users may read your article and never hit your site, see your product pages, or taste your value proposition. So, balance your investments here with your overall strategy. This channel may work well for thought-leadership and awareness level activities but not likely to drive a tons of conversions. To get the most out of your effort, develop a solid linking strategy and CTA structure that brings traffic back to you.