After Cambridge Analytica scandal, publishers see Apple News as a solid alternative to bei...

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in iPad edited March 21
For years, Facebook and Google have been bleeding the publishing industry dry, appropriating the work of its reporters while replacing the ads that traditionally supported the news business with their own targeted surveillance advertising that does little to support actual journalism. It took a major scandal to wake the industry up, but it's increasing warming to Apple News and its unique model of privacy.




The exposure of how Cambridge Analytica was able to obtain private data on 50 million Facebook users without permission, and why Facebook did nothing for two years after finding out about the egregious misuse of the massive social graph it maintains, has awakened a "Delete Facebook" movement among users tired of web advertising's malicious incompetence running roughshod over any remaining notion of online privacy and digital security.

But it's also a wakeup call to news publishers, who have long partnered with Facebook and Google with the expectation that all of the surveillance data those advertisers collect would eventually be of benefit to publishers, rather than just continuing to take away the revenues that have historically supported journalism.

Facebook and Google are "built to eviscerate publishers"

Today, in a piece for Recode headlined, "Google and Facebook can't help publishers because they're built to defeat publishers," Peter Kafka wrote, "no matter how hard Google and Facebook try to help publishers, they will do more to hurt them, because that's the way they're supposed to work. They're built to eviscerate publishers."

Unlike Facebook and Google, which rely entirely upon advertising revenue and have been working to take as much funding as possible away from their news partners, Apple developed its iOS News app with the same goal as the App Store and iTunes: to make its premium hardware more attractive and engaging to customers by surrounding it with ecosystems of valuable content from many sources.

Apple's efforts to bring valuable curation and publishing tools to online journalism have been gaining ground since the release of its News apps as part of iOS 9. Publishers can choose to work with Apple to monetize their work, or use their own ad technology. It's becoming an increasingly attractive option for news publishers as they realize what a mistake they made to partner with Facebook and Google.


Apple News is helping news sites building traffic, find subscribers

In February, The Information published a report by Tom Dotan titled "Inside Apple courtship of news publishers," noting that "Apple News has generated half of Vox.com's daily traffic at times."

The traffic itself isn't necessarily generating revenue, but publishers are learning how to convert readership into paid subscriptions. A report by Digital Content Next cited Dave Merrell, a lead product manager at The Washington Post, as outlining Apple's iOS demographic as a particularly valuable segment of readers.

Merrell said the Post has "had a subscription offer in Apple News since the launch of iOS 10, and we have been pleasantly surprised by this audience's propensity to subscribe. After only a year, Apple News is a thriving subscription channel for us."

He also noted, "Apple News traffic and subscriptions didn't just fall into our lap. We recognized the opportunity of a news platform built directly into iOS and made Apple News an integral part of our editorial processes immediately. We spent a lot of time studying the Apple News audience and their habits, and our editors watch Apple News analytics every day in order to ensure that audience is getting our best journalism."

Apple is actually quite well positioned to help publishers.

Apple News is secretly a powerful platform for publishers. https://t.co/1TejYBSElA

-- Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


David Lee, a Silicon Valley reporter for the BBC, tweeted yesterday that Apple News is a "Massive traffic driver for us. Particularly video."

Apple vs the surveillance advertisers

Apple's initial efforts to support journalists and news publishers with a digital periodical model focused on iPad was collectively jeered at by the news industry, which largely wanted to suck up unlimited data on their readers and use that to target them for new revenues in the web model they'd been adopting.

They generally saw Apple as standing in the way of their cherished cookies, and most refused to support a digital medium for journalism that offered less access to reader analytics and behavior than Google's surveillance ads had been offering them on the web.

When iPad first shipped in 2010, news publishers were also largely wedded to the idea of using Adobe Flash to deliver a digital facsimile of their print publications. Rather than adopting Apple's model for delivering HTML5 content or building custom iOS apps (the way conventional PC software makers successfully did), major publishers including Cond Nast worked with Adobe to throw out "something very lazy and/or desperate," effectively huge, unwieldy images of their magazines packaged in an app wrapper.

When customers passed on paying for lazy, poorly implemented subscription-based apps that offered nothing new that couldn't already be found elsewhere, often for free, publishers complained that it was Steve Jobs' fault for not singlehandedly saving journalism on their behalf.

Apple's rough path to the News app

In 2011, Apple promoted "The Daily," an effort to tailor news for iPad users by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Yet it was competing against, essentially, Napster-News, an endless array of legitimate (and less legitimate) news sites offering content on the web or in apps for free, generally monetized by display adverting from Google. Even at its 99 cents per week price, "The Daily" wasn't enough to capture enough readers' attention to sustain a newsroom of journalists working to create professional content for it.

The next year, Apple focused on iPad digital books to take on the textbook industry, an effort that resisted by textbook publishers as well as attacked by Amazon. Despite being the leading digital bookseller with majority market share, Amazon successfully complained to the federal government that Apple had colluded with publishers to sell ebooks priced higher than the prices it was capable of forcing publishers to sell their work for.

Apple spent several more years working on a publishing strategy for news, starting with "Newsstand," a dedicated iOS folder for news-related App Store titles, with a specialized store designed to highlight subscription-based content. This too didn't gain much traction in a world where plenty of other content was available for free online, and most news apps were simply lazy wrappers for huge images of print magazines.


Newsstand attempted to draw attention to periodical-based app subscriptions, but most weren't designed well


Creative App Store developers, however, began working on new ways to present interactive, digital book and magazine layouts. Former Apple employees Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris launched Push Pop Press with the intent of facilitating the creation of dynamic books as native iOS apps.

After Apple appeared interested, Facebook bought the startup in 2011 and flubbed its own execution in trying to launch the concept as Paper. It didn't launch until in 2014, and was then abandoned by Facebook after two years.

In 2012, a digital publisher in Netherlands, led by Michel Elings, relaunched its formerly Adobe InDesign-based TRVL publication as an iOS-native digital app with interactive features, created using a the Prss development tool it custom built for the task.

The slick app and the technology behind it also caught Apple's attention. It highlighted the team's work in 2012 at WWDC, and it subsequently ended up acquiring the team by the end of 2014.

The following year Apple released iOS 9 with a new Apple News app replacing Newsstand, with features that appear to derive from Prss. At the time, Apple also stressed that News readers' personal behaviors and recommendations would not be tracked or linked to their Apple ID.

Since then, Apple has expanded the curation and customization of News feeds, allowing users to set up notifications for breaking news, select news sources or subjects of interest similar to the recommendation system in Apple Music, subscribe directly to publications, search for news by subject and save articles for reading offline later.



Apple News also began managing an updated Spotlight of related, trending stories of the day and has added specialized coverage for events including the recent Olympic Games (above).

Earlier this month, Apple acquired Texture, an app that offers instant digital access to both new and legacy issues of around 200 of the most popular publications. Its unlimited access subscription model has been dubbed the "Netflix of magazines," and appears to fit into Apple's increasing interest in building a content empire beyond Apple Music and iTunes Movies and Apple TV.

The company may reveal more about its iOS news and book publishing efforts at its education-related event being held next week in Chicago. It is also likely to outline more about its plans for News, digital publishing, social networking and its ongoing privacy initiatives at WWDC in June.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    Pfft. The default feeds for me included BuzzFeed, Politico and various YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE IT! sites. Such high-quality content!
    SpamSandwichracerhomie3
  • Reply 2 of 61
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,556administrator
    Once again, we've actively chosen to leave the comments on for this post, but there is a tight leash. Political manifestos will not be tolerated.
    airnerdmagman1979
  • Reply 3 of 61
    sfolaxsfolax Posts: 23member
    Stopped reading at the first sentence, factually wrong as can always expect from a DED piece.
    The data was not obtained without permission
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/18/facebook_confirms_cambridge_analytica_stole_its_data_its_a_plot_claims_former_director/

    “Approximately 270,000 people downloaded the app. In so doing, they gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it,” the statement reads.

    The kicker’s in the last bit of that. Unless users had their Facebook privacy settings locked down the app slurped not only the 270,000 consenting users but all their friends as well - over 50 million people according to Christopher Wylie, a former researcher director at CA, who had a copy of the data set.

    Facebook is peeved that the data was collected under an academic license and then sold commercially.

    If they had a commercial license, nothing would have been said about this.

    Lastly, why don't you care about this as well - https://www.rt.com/usa/421808-obama-facebook-mine-data/

    edited March 21 gtrairnerd[Deleted User]racerhomie3BubbaTwokestralSpamSandwich
  • Reply 4 of 61
    asciiascii Posts: 5,926member
    If you like watching lots and lots of news then I guess you might want someone to curate it for you. But if you only browse the news occassionally looking for any big things coming up that might effect you, then you kind of want to do your own research.
  • Reply 5 of 61
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 565member
    I will start off by saying I haven't been a user of Apple News since I played with it when it first came out and saw it appeared to just be another "magazine stand" where if I had a subscription I could use that app to read it digitally.  I buried the app and never touched it.  The exact reason is this quote from the article:

    "The traffic itself isn't necessarily generating revenue, but publishers are learning how to convert readership into paid subscriptions"

    They are "learning" how to convert by the one thing I hate more than anything, but have no solution myself.  And that is reading the headline and a few sentences and then a screen pops up "subscribe with us for just $1.99 a month (and we will bill your CC into eternity unless you jump through 8 million hoops to speak to the one person in the world that can unsubscribe you and stop billing you)".  And I can't do that for a dozen different sites.

    I have no problem at all supporting media that can get me hard hitting news or investigative pieces.  I do have an issue with needing two-dozen subscriptions just to sit down and get through a cup of coffee and be up to speed.  No thanks.  If Apple could get a solution where I pay $4.99 a month and get a whole host of popular news sites articles, I'm in.  I really hope that doesn't exist already and I look like a doofus. :)
    edited March 21 cornchip
  • Reply 6 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,315member
    airnerd said:

    I have no problem at all supporting media that can get me hard hitting news or investigative pieces.  I do have an issue with needing two-dozen subscriptions just to sit down and get through a cup of coffee and be up to speed.  No thanks.  If Apple could get a solution where I pay $4.99 a month and get a whole host of popular news sites articles, I'm in.  I really hope that doesn't exist already and I look like a doofus. :)
    Assumingly the Texture purchase goes thru as planned Apple will have a magazine subscription service that does something along those lines, tho likely priced a bit higher than the price you mentioned. It may be another couple of months or so. In the meantime you can already subscribe to Texture.
    edited March 21 SpamSandwichracerhomie3cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 61
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,746member
    I was an early adopter of The Daily back when I got my first iPad2 and lamented it's demise. I use Apple News now to aggregate articles from the sources I want. In the early days, News kept trying to force various sources into my For You feed. That seems to have stopped as I now only get articles from sources I've requested.
    AI_liasmagman1979
  • Reply 8 of 61
    thttht Posts: 2,912member
    I use Apple News.app all the time. You can curate the topics you want to see. This helps a lot. You can turn off articles from certain publishers being in your feed. Not much different from other aggregators. The ads are at a minimum. 

    Wish it had rules you can set too so that I can prevent articles with certain keywords from showing up. 

    I wouldn’t mind micropayment options on a per article basis. 
    AI_liasmike1racerhomie3magman1979bonobobstantheman
  • Reply 9 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,315member
    tht said:
    I use Apple News.app all the time. You can curate the topics you want to see. 
    I wouldn’t mind micropayment options on a per article basis. 
    But I suspect most folks wouldn't. Other techs from PayPal to startup Flattr to Google have tried (and Google still is) to encourage micropayments pretty much along those lines and for a few years now, but with very limited success. People don't want to open up a wallet, and publishers and their employees won't work for free. We're at a standoff. 
    edited March 21 SpamSandwich
  • Reply 10 of 61
    sfolax said:
    Stopped reading at the first sentence, factually wrong as can always expect from a DED piece.
    The data was not obtained without permission
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/18/facebook_confirms_cambridge_analytica_stole_its_data_its_a_plot_claims_former_director/

    “Approximately 270,000 people downloaded the app. In so doing, they gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it,” the statement reads.

    The kicker’s in the last bit of that. Unless users had their Facebook privacy settings locked down the app slurped not only the 270,000 consenting users but all their friends as well - over 50 million people according to Christopher Wylie, a former researcher director at CA, who had a copy of the data set.

    Facebook is peeved that the data was collected under an academic license and then sold commercially.

    If they had a commercial license, nothing would have been said about this.

    Lastly, why don't you care about this as well - https://www.rt.com/usa/421808-obama-facebook-mine-data/


    270k people unwitting gave access to their data, which allowed the data of 50 million other people to be stolen. 

    How do you not get the words you are typing?


    radarthekatsmiffy31lowededwookiemagman1979revenantuser9bwatto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 11 of 61
    I wonder when the day will come that the people PAYING for the advertisements realise it's not working? Do ads really work on anyone, I may be in a minority but other than rarely making me aware of something new I didn't know about, adverts (TV, radio, internet, magazine etc.) have never directly resulted in me making a purchase, big nor small.
  • Reply 12 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,315member
    adm1 said:
    I wonder when the day will come that the people PAYING for the advertisements realise it's not working? Do ads really work on anyone, I may be in a minority but other than rarely making me aware of something new I didn't know about, adverts (TV, radio, internet, magazine etc.) have never directly resulted in me making a purchase, big nor small.
    Apparently they work since nearly every retailer, product maker, car dealer, technology company (yup Apple), restaurant, movie and TV producer and service provider uses them. Ads have proven their value over centuries.

    As for you personally I suspect some Apple ad contributed to your interest unless you simply knee-jerk purchase anything with the Apple logo on it. 
    edited March 21 stanthemanjony0
  • Reply 13 of 61
    Cesar Battistini MazieroCesar Battistini Maziero Posts: 141unconfirmed, member
    Apple News has to become global!!!! There is no way on earth they can compete without that move. 

    Every Apple service has to go global if they want them to catch.
    magman1979ombra2105stanthemanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 61
    gatorguy said:
    adm1 said:
    I wonder when the day will come that the people PAYING for the advertisements realise it's not working? Do ads really work on anyone, I may be in a minority but other than rarely making me aware of something new I didn't know about, adverts (TV, radio, internet, magazine etc.) have never directly resulted in me making a purchase, big nor small.
    Apparently they work since nearly every retailer, product maker, car dealer, technology company (yup Apple), restaurant, movie and TV producer and service provider uses them. Ads have proven their value over centuries.

    As for you personally I suspect some Apple ad contributed to your interest unless you simply knee-jerk purchase anything with the Apple logo on it. 
    gatorguy said:
    adm1 said:
    I wonder when the day will come that the people PAYING for the advertisements realise it's not working? Do ads really work on anyone, I may be in a minority but other than rarely making me aware of something new I didn't know about, adverts (TV, radio, internet, magazine etc.) have never directly resulted in me making a purchase, big nor small.
    Apparently they work since nearly every retailer, product maker, car dealer, technology company (yup Apple), restaurant, movie and TV producer and service provider uses them. Ads have proven their value over centuries.

    As for you personally I suspect some Apple ad contributed to your interest unless you simply knee-jerk purchase anything with the Apple logo on it. 
    If Google’s ads are effective, why can’t it sell its own Nexus/Pixel products despite incessant advertising for them all over its sites for years?

    Display ads work for awareness, not so valuable for branding. Nobody really knows how valuable google ads are because google sets the prices without much direct competition. 

    Its like shopping under communism. 
    edited March 21 racerhomie3watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 15 of 61
    trillottrillot Posts: 19member
    Thanks again, DED
    magman1979watto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 16 of 61
    I think the bigger picture isn't News, but privacy in general.

    Apple has continually promoted their stance on privacy and protection of user data. We haven't really had any major breaches at Google or Facebook that caused a large amount of personal data to be leaked, so people currently don't seem to care how much they know about you. All it takes is one major incident to get people thinking, and this Facebook issue could be a tipping point in general awareness about what companies know about you. Enough that people might start getting fed up with data mining your personal habits/tastes. Consumer backlash (and maybe even legislation) could have serious consequences for Facebook and Google, and virtually none for Apple. It would probably have the opposite effect on Apple, improving their reputation in the eyes of consumers.
    racerhomie3magman1979jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,315member
    gatorguy said:
    adm1 said:
    I wonder when the day will come that the people PAYING for the advertisements realise it's not working? Do ads really work on anyone, I may be in a minority but other than rarely making me aware of something new I didn't know about, adverts (TV, radio, internet, magazine etc.) have never directly resulted in me making a purchase, big nor small.
    Apparently they work since nearly every retailer, product maker, car dealer, technology company (yup Apple), restaurant, movie and TV producer and service provider uses them. Ads have proven their value over centuries.

    As for you personally I suspect some Apple ad contributed to your interest unless you simply knee-jerk purchase anything with the Apple logo on it. 
    gatorguy said:
    adm1 said:
    I wonder when the day will come that the people PAYING for the advertisements realise it's not working? Do ads really work on anyone, I may be in a minority but other than rarely making me aware of something new I didn't know about, adverts (TV, radio, internet, magazine etc.) have never directly resulted in me making a purchase, big nor small.
    Apparently they work since nearly every retailer, product maker, car dealer, technology company (yup Apple), restaurant, movie and TV producer and service provider uses them. Ads have proven their value over centuries.

    As for you personally I suspect some Apple ad contributed to your interest unless you simply knee-jerk purchase anything with the Apple logo on it. 
    If Google’s ads are effective, why can’t it see its own Nexus/Pixel products despite incessant advertising for them all over its sites for years? 
    Nobody really knows how valuable google ads are...
    Huh? Do you think even every Apple user buys every Apple thing they see in an ad. If you don't want something you don't want something, even tho the very best ads might make you believe you do. Apple believes ads are effective since they use Google too among other providers, and I suspect they know more about the effectiveness of them than you wouldn't you agree? Little different than armchair execs coming in to say what Apple should do, or how they'd run things.  
    edited March 21 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 61
    I don’t believe all the news around Cambridge Analytica and Facebook will result in a measurable amount of people leaving Facebook permanently. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people aren’t even aware of the issues, more than on a cursory level. 

    Maybe this will work out well for Apple News and publishers, but I don’t think this particular issue will change much. 


  • Reply 19 of 61
    gatorguy said:
    adm1 said:
    I wonder when the day will come that the people PAYING for the advertisements realise it's not working? Do ads really work on anyone, I may be in a minority but other than rarely making me aware of something new I didn't know about, adverts (TV, radio, internet, magazine etc.) have never directly resulted in me making a purchase, big nor small.
    Apparently they work since nearly every retailer, product maker, car dealer, technology company (yup Apple), restaurant, movie and TV producer and service provider uses them. Ads have proven their value over centuries.

    As for you personally I suspect some Apple ad contributed to your interest unless you simply knee-jerk purchase anything with the Apple logo on it. 
    My personal interest in Apple grew from my school days when I was looking into a career in graphic design, a few companies I visited all used Macs. I grew up building my own computers and along the way found myself admiring the G3 and G4 Macs that a few friends had purchased. After having a play with one of them it peaked my interest further. I bought myself an iMac G5 and it served me well for 10+years, my personal experience with the product and services on offer from Apple directly contributed to my continued interest in the brand's offerings. 

    I would say word-of-mouth/recommendations/reviews from fellow humans might sway my buying decisions but most of all it's my personal experience of the products. I bought and sold the PS3 four times in the first 6 months as I tried hard to like it coming from a PS1 and 2, eventually getting an Xbox 360. Even Apple's own adverts don't sway me (I prefer Spotify to Apple Music), I use Google Photos rather than iCloud as I find it easier to manage across devices, I prefer iPhones and iPads after years of using devices from all manufacturers - not because a poster said one was better than the other.

    As I said, I guess I'm in the minority.
  • Reply 20 of 61
    thttht Posts: 2,912member
    gatorguy said:
    tht said:
    I use Apple News.app all the time. You can curate the topics you want to see. 
    I wouldn’t mind micropayment options on a per article basis. 
    But I suspect most folks wouldn't. Other techs from PayPal to startup Flattr to Google have tried (and Google still is) to encourage micropayments pretty much along those lines and for a few years now, but with very limited success. People don't want to open up a wallet, and publishers and their employees won't work for free. We're at a standoff. 
    Yup most people wouldn’t. But, some would. It may be enough for the small outfits, one to two person shops. For the large, corporate style news organizations, they have to use a multitude of money making mechanisms to fund their business, like they have always done.

    A lot of what can go through Apple News, any media these days, come from small shops. I’d pay for certain things. And I’d like to see it expand to podcasting too. 
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