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Apple Doesn’t Know How Many People Use Its News App

4975059742_c22568f754_bTo web publishers, knowing what people are reading is almost as important knowing the latest news because it helps you focus your energy on the stories that get the most attention.

And sadly Apple is falling down on that point. The WSJ reports that Apple’s wonderful new Apple News app isn’t living up to all its promises.

Since it launched last September, Apple Inc.’s News app has attracted more than 100 publishing partners world-wide hoping to capitalize on the growing consumption of news on mobile devices.

There is one major problem: Neither media companies nor Apple know how many people are reading.

The company mistakenly has been underestimating the number of readers using the News app since its launch, and passing that inaccurate information on to publishers.

When it comes to Apple News, analytics doesn’t just tell publishers what was being read; it also tells them how many adverts were displayed next to their articles.

Apple makes web publishers use its iAds platform of they want to show adverts next to their articles. This platform launched with the Apple News app. A limited number of web publishers have the option of selling ads in Apple News (the same is true for Facebook Instant Articles), and if publishers aren’t getting accurate reports of reading activity then it raises questions as to whether the ads are being tracked correctly.

Edit: And now there are reports that Apple is stepping back from its iAds unit.

And with a reported 40 million people having used the Apple News app since it launched last fall, that could add up to a pretty penny. However, Apple isn’t saying how many people use the app on a regular basis or and how much traffic publishers are getting, so we could be making a mountain out of a molehill.

Some web publishers are still excited about the possibilities of Apple news. but it’s worth remembering that Apple previously launched a news product before letting it wither. Apple Newsstand was supposed to boost publishers' subscription and revenue, but it ultimately proved to be the purgatory where news apps went, never to be opened again.

Apple’s response was to ignore that app for years before retiring it late in 2015.

Let’s hope they don’t take that passive approach to Apple News, or at least if they do then let’s hope publishers catch on sooner.

image by desbyrnephotos

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