No, Apple doesn’t share reader data directly. But there are some clear pathways for publishers to leverage and drive first-party data capture in the app.

In a change from our regular weekly shows and our Conversations panel discussions, this is a short, sharp sponsored episode – just 10 minutes – with a senior executive from a vendor working with publishers to make their businesses better.

This episode Peter speaks with Kieran Delaney, CEO at Apple News specialists FlatPlan, about how publishers can make the most of the platform. Despite its rigid policies on sharing consumer data, there are ways publishers can funnel readers to their own properties to capture data there. Kieran also explains why Apple News is worth investing time into compared to social media, and how to get started.

Here are some episode highlights:

The credibility of publications on Apple News

One of the tricky elements to Apple News is that in essence, it’s invite-only nowadays. And what that means is that Apple is primarily accepting publications that that meet a certain standard in terms of quality, editorial approach, etc, etc. From their perspective, they’re looking for high quality, original content. If your story appears next to a story from the Atlantic or CNN, there’s an element of credibility there.

[Active curation is] on Apple’s shoulders. It’s not fully curated by Apple News editors, but there’s lots of sections of the app that are, and so they have a role to play – as we all do – within within this world of trying to ensure that this is a quality output, there isn’t this low quality news content that’s just ‘churnalism’, for want of a better term.

Lots of publishers actually are already on Apple News from many, many moons ago. So we talk to a lot of publishers, they’re like, ‘We’re not an Apple News.’ And we’re like, ‘No, you signed up a long time ago. And there is a login so you’ve got your invite. It was a long time ago.’ There’s that element to it.

The other one, of course, is Apple reaching out and getting in touch. And most recently, they’re moving heavily into the ‘sports news’ space. And so they’re actively looking for publishers that are reporting on specific topics, so that could be women’s football, or some new sport that’s that’s a huge deal now. So that happens as well.

But there’s another element to it, which is that we work quite closely with Apple. So for publications that feel that they would be a good fit, we actively pitch them to Apple. We circulate it around the Apple team and then the invite comes at that point.

Privacy and first-party data on Apple News

You can’t [get first-party data] directly. Apple is very much about privacy and not sharing data externally. You do get an analytics platform yourself when you have Apple News, and that gives you demographic data, it gives you a good amount of data on an article level, on a demographic data level as well.

But what we do is we try to make sure that we look at utilizing the discoverability element of Apple News, attracting a big audience of very dedicated readers into your your Apple News publication, building loyalty within the platform itself. And we do that with a number of tools.

Then once there’s loyalty built, all of the articles that we deliver into Apple News have call-to-actions that drive readers out into data capture strategies. So that could be website registrations, newsletter subscriptions, app downloads.

There’s this huge audience that live within Apple News. Once you build loyalty, there’s this real opportunity to turn that loyal reader in Apple News into a subscriber, or website registration, or an app download.

Getting smart about platforms

I think there’s a big difference between the social media platforms and news platforms like Apple News and SmartNews. The social media platforms have pretty much proven that news isn’t a priority to them recently, but news platforms like Apple News, Flipboard, SmartNews, etc etc., they only exist because of publishers.

We sit in a place where we aid publishers to make sure they reach those platforms and make the most of it, and try to make the most of it as directly and quickly as possible with first party data. The risk of news aggregators deprioritising news is zero, because the business model relies on it.

But the other element to it is this, this is where a lot of news audiences live now. They open their phone, Apple News lives on it, they go directly through to it. It’s about ensuring that it is working for you, that if you’ve got this audience living there, you get to them, and then you make the most of them yourself.

Apple News is, is generating billions of revenue for Apple itself. And they are a services company now as much as they are a product company. [Apple News has] been around since 2015, and they’re not showing any signs of changing that strategy. It’s a sticky, useful app, and it generates revenue.

And in terms of investment, there’s a big difference as well I think with news platforms and social media, in the sense of, it’s taking content that you’re producing, and it’s delivering it to an audience. What you do once that audience engages with that content is down to you in many ways.

But it’s not the same level of investment in some ways of managing social media platforms, managing, commenting, managing the way that you’re producing videos specifically for the platform. It’s much more about this audience here. What can we do? What can we get from that audience? How can we get them to help us grow our business?

This Media Briefs episode is sponsored by FlatPlan. More than 145 million people read 5 billion articles on Apple News every month and FlatPlan empowers publishers to reach, retain and own these readers.

With clients ranging from Bauer Media to ITV News, FlatPlan handles all the heavy lifting including delivery, reporting and optimisation. FlatPlan is a no-code solution that works with any CMS, maximising the effectiveness of your content with tools built to scale audience growth quickly.

Learn more about FlatPlan on their website, or get a free content distribution plan.

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