Why Apple’s daily newsletter is a bigger deal than you realize

(Creative Commons image via Pxhere)

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Why Apple’s new daily newsletter is a bigger deal than you realize

9to5Mac reports that Apple News has launched a daily newsletter called “Good Morning.” It’ll basically be an email version of the Apple News app, curating a range of stories from traditional news publishers. “The summaries are clearly written by Apple’s editorial team and are not merely quotes from the source articles,” wrote 9to5Mac.

This might seem like a rather boring development. In a world in which nearly every news outlet already publishes a morning newsletter, why is adding another one into the mix a significant development?

Because Apple News isn’t just another news outlet. Speak to anyone who both works at a media company and has access to that company’s web analytics, and they’ll tell you that news curation apps like Google News, SmartNews, and Flipboard have generated significant traffic in recent years, and no app has delivered more eyeballs than Apple News. For some publishers, Apple News has surpassed Facebook as a traffic source.

With its morning newsletter, Apple seems to be sending it to anyone who has opted into Apple News’s email alerts over the last several years, which means it’s starting off with a base list of millions of emails. Even if it only sees an average open rate of about 20%, its potential for traffic referrals is immense.

It’ll also produce benefits for publishers in other ways. For instance, most Apple News users are opening the app on their mobile devices, whereas a newsletter version will lead to more exposure to desktop users. Given that 42% of website traffic still comes from desktop, that’s a significant audience that Apple News hasn’t had access to until now.

More important, this desktop traffic is significantly more monetizable. While Apple News has generated gargantuan readership, most of that reading took place on the mobile app, which is notoriously bad at producing real revenue for publishers. A Slate article published a few years ago famously reported that “Slate makes more money from a single article that gets 50,000 page views on its site than it does from the 6 million page views it receives on Apple News in an average month.” 

If you’re on a PC desktop and click on a newsletter link, then presumably you’ll be led directly to the publisher’s website. The publisher will not only be able to directly monetize your visit, but it’ll have an easier time converting you into a repeat visitor and, possibly, a paying subscriber. 

Of course, these are just predictions at this point. And the publishers that stand to benefit the most are the ones regularly featured in Apple News -- publishers like The New York Times, Washington Post, and BuzzFeed. But don’t be surprised if, six months from now, you start seeing media executives gush to the trade press about how great Apple has been for their audience growth numbers. 

Minute Media’s plan to dominate sports coverage

In November, a company called Minute Media announced it was acquiring The Players’ Tribune, the website founded by Derek Jeter that regularly collaborates with pro sports athletes on first-person storytelling.

Though the name Minute Media might not be familiar to most people, chances are you’ve encountered one of the sites it owns, especially if you follow sports. Over the past few years, it’s slowly amassed an amalgam of sports properties that cover everything from global soccer to esports. It also owns Mental Floss, the quirky trivia magazine that was founded in 2001.

I recently sat down with President and CRO Rich Routman to discuss why he thinks Minute Media is different from many of the other venture funded digital media sites out there. We talked about the company’s video strategy, how it approaches advertising, and why it expanded into non-sports content when it acquired Mental Floss.

To listen to the interview, subscribe to The Business of Content on your favorite podcast player, or you can read an article version of the interview here: [link]

Want to interact with me directly?

I have a secret Facebook group that’s only promoted to subscribers of this newsletter. I try to post exclusive commentary to it sometimes and have regular discussions with its members about the tech/media space. Go here to join. [link]

The internet’s sketch comedy boom

The Ringer published a fantastic profile of Nick Ciarelli and Brad Evans, two internet personalities who have found a devoted audience by posting sketch comedy videos to Twitter. I recently discovered the two when I stumbled across their hilarious parody of Barstool Sports.

Ciarelli and Evans are part of a much larger internet sketch comedy scene that’s really blossomed in recent years, and I don’t think it’s received enough coverage. 

There are two main forms of traditional television: reality TV and scripted shows. Reality TV is cheap to produce, so online video creators were able to easily mimic it, first with vlogging and then later with the kind of episodic, repeatable formats like the ones found with Hot Ones or Mr. Beast’s giveaway videos.

Scripted television is much more expensive, making it difficult for aspiring practitioners to replicate it on YouTube. But sketch comedy provides the perfect gateway, allowing for scripted, narrative content that doesn’t require an entire production team and gobs of cash. As The Ringer profile noted, a recent Ciarelli and Evans sketch only cost $6 and was shot outside of a Burger King.

And this is great for us as media consumers, because sketch comedy, as short as it is, has the ability to be incredibly subversive and experimental. Some of our greatest actors and screenwriters got their start at places like Saturday Night Live and Mr. Show, and I find it fascinating to consider what impact the current crop of internet sketch comedy artists will have on pop culture in the years to come.

The losing battle against social media influencer fraud

So this week I appeared as a guest on a panel show. This particular episode focused on social media influencers, particularly how governments and platforms are regulating them to curb abuse and fraud. My segment starts at about 16:50 in case you want to skip ahead! [link]

A rare, unfiltered look inside Alex Jones's conspiracy empire

From NYT Mag: “I Worked for Alex Jones. I Regret It.”


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Simon Owens is a tech and media journalist living in Washington, DC. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. Email him at simonowens@gmail.com. For a full bio, go here.