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What news publishers have in common with Fortnite and unraveling Google Discover’s mysteries: What we read this week (8/21)

Each week the News Dashboard staff reads dozens of articles about Google, search engine optimization, digital publishing and the news industry.

Take a look at the stories we think you should be on your radar.

How Fortnite’s scuffle with Apple could be good for news publishers

Apple yanked Fortnite from the App Store over payment integration violations. And Epic Games, publisher of Fortnite, swung back with an antitrust lawsuit (and with a well-produced commercial).

Folks across tech, gaming, law and news took notice.

Epic Games took issue with the 30 percent cut Apple takes from in-app purchases.

Apple claims Epic Games asked Apple for a “special deal” for Fortnite players making purchases on the IOS version of the game. When Apple refused, Epic Games added its own payment system resulting in the game’s removal from the App Store.

But Apple does have a history of making “special deals.” One such deal we know of is with Amazon. It was penned in 2016.

<<News publishers enter the chat.>>

On Thursday, Digital Content Next, a digital media trade association with members such as The New York Times and Washington Post, sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook inquiring how they could get a deal like Amazon’s.

Unlike Google and Facebook, Apple hasn’t decimated newspaper’s bottom lines by gobbling up digital advertising. However, news industry folks grumble over Apple’s control over user data, in-app advertising and a hefty 50 percent cut of subscription revenue made through Apple News and Apple News Plus.

In June, The New York Times pulled its content from the free version of Apple News and declined to participate in the paid version of the app.

With so many publishers forcing the topic Apple may just revisit its revenue share policies, which would most likely result in a net-gain for publishers.

Our thoughts: Epic Games could break open a flurry of deal-making on Apple’s part, especially if the antitrust lawsuit proceeds further. We’re big fans of anything that helps publishers bring in more revenue.

Uncovering the mysteries of Google Discover

Kevin Indig, vice president of SEO and content at G2, tracked his Google Discover feed for 12 days to learn how Google chose stories to feature.

Google Discover is a mobile-only feature that surfaces stories a user may be interested in before entering a search path.

His methodology:

  • Indig started monitoring his feed on July 22.
  • He followed several brands on July 26.
  • He monitored his feed for another week, never clicking on a story.

I recommend checking out his entire blog post to see how exactly his experiment turned out.

In a nutshell: What’s going on with Australian news publishers and Google?

You’re probably familiar with how an Australia is considering putting in place a law that requires Google and Facebook to negotiate with news publishers over payment for news content.

Recently Google began pushing back by appealing directly to users with a banner that says, “the way Aussies search every day on Google is at risk from a new government regulation.”

DigiDay published a great explainer detailing the situation, how it’s evolved over time and where things could go from here.

Google News overlooking new publishers?

In December 2019 Google announced its no longer necessary for publishers to submit their sites to Google News for indexing and ranking purposes. And ever since SEOs and publishers have complained their sites aren’t indexing or ranking.

Barry Schwartz at SEO Round Table this week compiled a list of complaints. John Mueller wasn’t aware of any issues when Schwartz asked him during a hangout. Mueller said he’d look into it.


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Read more

Google ‘People Cards,’ a paywalled content alert app and what a world without cookies could look like (8/14) 

What’s next for big tech? Google Web Stories and how Google evaluates SERP changes: What we read this week (8/7)

Coronavirus domain winners, Google’s day in front of Congress and revenue sharing: What we read this week (7/31)

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