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Apple News usage is on the rise, but publisher profits struggle

Apple News usage is on the rise, but publisher profits struggle
[Photo: Rob Hampson/Unsplash]

A report from Slate finds that “several news outlets” have said that they’ve seen their audience on Apple’s News app multiply in 2018–some by as much as 400%. For some publishers, this increasing adoption of Apple News brings the platform on par with readership numbers garnered through Facebook and Google. In other words–publishers now see some serious traffic through Apple’s News app. According to Slate:

Sources at several news outlets say they’ve seen their audience on Apple News multiply in 2018 alone. Some now say it has become one of their top traffic sources, alongside Facebook and Google. At Slate, which disclosed its data for this story, page views on Apple News have roughly tripled since September 2017, and the app recently surpassed Facebook as a driver of readership.

The bad news is, publishers aren’t seeing a correlation in profit increase with all those extra eyeballs brought in through Apple News:

The problem, publishers say, is that Apple doesn’t sell many ads within the app—not nearly as many as you’d find on most websites—and it doesn’t make it particularly easy for publishers to sell their own. Apple News doesn’t support some of the common ad formats or systems that dominate ad sales on the web, and not all media companies find it worthwhile to develop and sell custom ads just for Apple News. (Those that do can keep all the revenue or they can let Apple sell them, in which case Apple takes a 30% cut.)

And that’s disappointing news for publishers. Matter of fact, Slate‘s senior product manager ran the numbers and found that Slate makes more money from ads on a single article on its website that received just 50,000 page views than it has from the 6 million page views it garnered from all its articles on Apple News this calendar year.

However, things may be about to improve for publishers. In May Apple announced that publishers will be able to use Google’s DoubleClick to serve ads in Apple News. Apple has also begun paying some publishers for original content in the app. Will those initiatives be enough? Let’s hope so for Apple’s sake. It’s rumored the company is planning a magazine and news subscription service. But if it offers as weak ad profits as Apple News currently does, it’s difficult to see many publishers signing up for it.

Update: Slate has issued a correction to their original story. Slate originally said it makes more money from ads on a single article on its website that received just 50,000 page views than it has from the 54 million page views it garnered from all its articles on Apple News this calendar year. The 54 million figure was incorrect. The correct figure is 6 million page views. It has been adjusted accordingly in the story above. Slate’s correction can be read below:

Due to an editing error, it also misstated that Slate makes more money from a single article that gets 50,000 page views on its site than it has from the 54 million page views it has had on Apple News this year. It makes roughly the same amount of money from a single article that gets 50,000 page views on its site than it does from the 6 million page views it receives on Apple News in an average month.

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