There is no shortage of digital distribution platforms that want content from publishers. Whether it is Facebook’s Instant Articles or Apple News, Flipboard or the digital newsstands, these efforts by tech companies depend on one thing: that publishers remain desperate to find a winning strategy to reach digital readers.
Apple’s latest effort in this area is, of course, Apple News. The aggregated content app, like just about everything Apple does, was opened to a very select group of media partners with the promise that other publishers could come in using their RSS feeds, then later would be given access to the Apple News Format.
But publishers involved in the app have not been seen much readership.
“The traffic has been modest relative to the enormous install base of iOS devices,” Julie Hansen, president of Business Insider, said recently.
Talking New Media has itself been experimenting with Apple News and found that readership numbers are 'unacceptable'. The B2B website has found that the Apple News app only works if an article gets promoted by Apple.
This, in the end, is the problem with all of Apple’s publishing schemes so far: the success of the effort is completely dependent on whether Apple promotes the publisher’s content. This is true of other platforms, as well, but no matter which platform we might be talking about, it is a very poor solution for independent publishers. It means that success is random and fleeting. One day a publisher’s numbers spike, the next day they disappear.