June 10, 2015 Last Updated 8:15 am

Publishing platforms will need to up their game to explain value of digital editions apps

One digital publishing platform, Pugpig, posts thorough Q&A on both the soon-to-be-launched News app, and the continung value of branded digital edition apps

The death of the Newsstand is one of those things that every digital publisher knows about, is talking about, but amazingly has not been publicly confirmed still by Apple. Yet it is certainly happening once iOS 9 is released.

What does this mean for digital publishing platforms? The answer should be, I believe, very little. Prior to the introduction of the Newsstand in late 2011, all digital edition apps were stand-alone, and now they will simply be again. The Newsstand was probably a mistake, though not nearly as big a mistake as Apple abandoning maintainance of it over the past 18 months.

Surprisingly, few digital publishing service providers have wanted to comment on the news, many likely waiting for official word, or at least the end of WWDC as there is often more Apple announcements made during the week (WWDC continues through Friday).

One platform that has posted a Q&A concerning the Newsstand, and the News app which will be launched with the release of iOS 9, is Pugpig. They’ve done a really good job of explaining some of the ramifications, and here their blog post:


WHAT IS APPLE NEWS?.

Apple News replaces Newsstand. It provides content from publishers who can customize the way articles are displayed. Just like Flipboard, Apple News is a personalized feed of content and articles.

news-publisher-iconNews is driven by a format called the “Apple News Format” which has yet to be published, but it allows for rich typography, animations, video and image galleries

Within the Apple News app, users can select “Publisher Channels” (branded content delivered by publishers with the context of their publications) and “Topics” (of which there are “millions”, curated by a team of Apple editors). These choices go to create a personalised news feed which is the user’s primary navigation method.

A number of publishers have signed up as launch partners for News, including The Economist, Vanity Fair, Financial Times, Time, Wired, BuzzFeed, Vox, the New York Times, Bloomberg Business, and of course The Verge. Apple’s News app will launch in the US, UK, and Australia.

DO APPLE THINK THAT APPLE NEWS SHOULD REPLACE DEDICATED PUBLISHER APPS?.

No not at all. In fact they are pushing this as a discovery mechanism for publishers to drive readers to their own branded apps. This is why all the publishers on the platform for launch are only providing samples of their content. The trick will be to get the balance right so that publishers have enough content in Apple News to be noticed while keeping enough back in their own branded apps to ensure people want to engage directly with them

HOW WILL PUBLISHERS MONETISE THEIR CONTENT APPLE NEWS?

Apple are not charging for content, so the only way to monetise Apple News is through Apple iAds. Apple are promising that 100% of ad revenue associated with a publisher’s article will go to the publisher if they place the ad, or 70% if Apple place the ad.

Pugpig-content

CAN PUBLISHERS SELL SUBSCRIPTIONS THROUGH APPLE NEWS?

No

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE APPLE NEWSSTAND?

The Apple Newsstand will be discontinued and all apps within it will simply become standard Apple apps, on the homescreen like any other. We expect this will happen with the launch of iOS9

HOW WILL PUBLISHERS CREATE CONTENT FOR APPLE NEWS?

Apple are working on an authoring tool called Apple News Publisher, which can be used to create content and rich layouts. They have not yet launched this tool, nor given a date for when they will be available. Nor have they shared the specification for the feed created by the tools, so we do not yet know whether the feed format will be open or proprietary (it’s likely to be based on an open standard but with proprietary extensions, just as with the iBooks format).

We do know however, that publishers can use simple RSS feeds to send their content to Apple News.

HOW CAN PUBLISHERS CREATE APPLE NEWS FORMATTED CONTENT USING PUGPIG?

We haven’t seen the spec yet, but the great news is that Pugpig uses structured content, so we know that we will be able to deliver feeds to Apple News. From the start we’ll be able to deliver RSS feeds straight in the Apple News App. Once we have seen the spec, we’ll work out the details of how to deliver the beautifully formatted Pugpig pages that you use in your apps

CAN I LINK TO MY NATIVE APP FROM APPLE NEWS?

Yes. Apple News is designed to be a discovery mechanism for your native apps. You will be able to deep link into your app or website from Apple News.

IS THIS BETTER OR WORSE FOR PUBLISHERS THAN THE OLD NEWSSTAND?

While Apple are taking one more step to being the channel through which users consume publishers’ content, we still think this is really good news for publishers. The old newsstand was infamous for being a poor discovery platform for readers. With this new model, there should be a much better opportunity for your content to be discovered by your own readers as well as people who don’t have an existing relationship with your brand.

BUT WHAT’S THE POINT HAVING MY OWN APP IF APPLE ARE NOW DOING THIS?

There are loads of reasons why:

  • Apples are not the only fruit. If you want to be cross platform, then this won’t cut it. If you have your own native Pugpig app, you’ll be on Apple, Google Play, Amazon, Windows and web
  • If you want to charge your readers to access your content, then you need your own app
  • If you have a subscriber base, who you want to grant access to your content you need an app
  • You also need an app if you want a traditional edition-based cover to cover product
  • Or if you want to do anything beyond just delivering pages of content
  • Or you want a consistent user experience across devices
  • Or a direct relationship with your readers
  • Or push notifications
  • Or presence on the home screen
  • Or a bespoke user experience
  • Or scrapbooking
  • Or shopping
  • The list goes on!

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