Apple has joined Facebook in the push to natively host third-party journalism with its News app for mobile devices, announced this week.
The app will be included with the next version of the system software for iPhones and iPads, and will curate news content provided by publishers which can be personalised by a user.
Advertising sales use the same revenue split system that Facebook’s Instant Articles platform offers, with publishers who sell their own ads taking 100 per cent of the revenue and ads that are sold by Facebook or Apple respectively handing over 70 per cent of the revenue to the publisher.
Consumers can engage with news brands on any platform they choose and natively-hosted articles are reinforcing that behaviour, according to News Corp Australia’s head of innovation, Mark Drasutis.
“It’s going to change the way that we’re going to have to produce and distribute storytelling,” Mr Drasutis said.
“Curated content still has great value, but that curation now is coming from the consumer as well as the editor.”
Although there are concerns that placing the power to package and distribute news in the hands of Apple and Facebook may strip publishers of their brand identity and impact with readers, Mr Drasutis says trusted names in news will remain just as powerful and influential as ever.
“The value of a journalist, through to the editor, through to the brand of a media business is still as prevalent today as it was 20 years ago,” he said.
“The challenge is … because [of] the high percentage [of readers] that come in sideways from social and search.”
Mr Drasutis said the new apps pose a layout and content challenge for editors.
“If they come in sideways, and if they come in at article level, then the article has to basically embody the proposition of the brand that the customer trusts.
“You’ve got to start a journey.”
No Australian publishers have yet confirmed they are planning to take advantage of either Instant Articles or the News app, but the app is expected to reach hundreds of millions of iPhones once it launches in Spring.
“If there’s an app on your phone that’s just called News, you’re going to click on it,” Mr Drasutis said.
There used to be three ways or four ways of getting to a customer and now there is any number. “And we have to work with all of them,” he said.