No more 30% News Subscription Fee for Apple iOS In-App Purchases
Instead of being confined to Apple's ecosystem news publishers can now...
Since Apple originally permitted news publishers (and others) to sell a membership within their iPhone or iPad apps, it has been more than ten years. And over that entire period, one grievance has predominated: It required your people to subscribe through Apple rather than to you directly. A complete 30% of your subscriber's payment, month after month after year after year, cost the publisher money. And the publisher paid the price because it was harder to target offers, collect user information, and otherwise improve the connection between reader and outlet. Apple has taken note of these comments and made a few minor changes to their product to make it more enticing, primarily by reducing the income cut it takes in certain situations. (The video-game business Epic deserves the majority of the credit for this; it is engaged in a much more expensive legal struggle against Apple's App Store policies and international regulators in nations like Japan and the Netherlands.)
However, the crucial step was taken last fall when Apple said that certain iOS apps, including news apps, may completely circumvent its in-app payment system. Apple announced that it would permit so-called reader apps, which are defined as "apps that provide one or more of the following digital content types — magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, or video — as the primary functionality of the app," to use a link, a cutting-edge new technology that enables apps to send users to the publisher's website to subscribe.
Although Apple's one-click subscriptions are quite great, sending a potential subscriber to your website is unquestionably a revenue gain. You now own the relationship and keep the portion of your subscribers' payments that used to belong to Apple. Although the new policy was announced in September of last year, it wasn't implemented until March 30 and adoption has been somewhat gradual. But three months later, we get the first significant instance of a "reader app" promoting a method of subscribing other than through Apple: Netflix
The below methodology is recommended by Neiman Labs,
- Stop using Apple to sell in-app subscriptions. The fact that Apple's in-app subscription mechanism is so simple to use is the only remaining justification for giving them 30% (or 15%) of your subscription money. That's no longer a compelling argument.
- Request permission to link to your personal subscription interface. Yes, it is still a privilege to be able to link to your own website rather than a right. The eerily Orwellian "External Link Account Entitlement" must first be applied for. There are a few prerequisites, but most news producers should have little trouble meeting them. The most significant is that a publisher is not permitted to "provide in-app purchases on iOS or iPadOS while using the External Link Account Entitlement." To put it another way, you can utilize either Apple's system or your own system, but not both at once.
- Make your own mobile subscription platform as user-friendly as you can. This ought to be a top priority regardless of what Apple does! You should make it as simple as possible for someone using a smartphone to give you money! One recommendation is to enable Apple Pay on your website. Selling digital items (such as subscriptions) inside an iOS app using Apple Pay has long been prohibited by Apple. However, you have complete freedom online. For an iPhone user, using Apple Pay is almost as simple as signing up for an in-app subscription, and from the vendor's perspective, it's virtually identical to using a credit card.
- Keep experimenting with a variety of subscription services to find what works. It was challenging to test various sales presentations with customers due to Apple's strict in-app limitations. (The first three months are only $0.99! $50 every year for your entire life!) Smart publishers already do periodic tests of this nature to enhance their offerings; now, app users can also receive such offers.
Your subscription payments that are currently subject to Apple's 30% cut are no longer required to do so. And you can just use whatever system you already have in place rather than developing a resource-intensive substitute. Go save that cash and use the chance to make sure that your readers' path to payment is as seamless as it can be — on any device.
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