After Facebook launched Instant Articles in May 2015, Google in retaliation launched their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project in February 2016. Nearly a year after they’ve both been competing, it’s time to compare both of the initiatives and ultimately see which of the duopoly has got the upper hand.
Both were an initiative to make to make mobile webpages load quicker, but while Instant Articles’ use has petered out, AMP has thrived and become extremely important for publishers. In this blog, we speak about the importance of accelerated web pages and whether they’re actually of real importance, or just plain smoke.
Aiming to right the wrong of the slow user experience on mobile devices Google created an open source initiative to provide a mechanism for mobile sites to load faster and provide an app like user experience in terms of speed. They have also been working with a number of organisations since the initiative was announced late last year and, therefore have had a wide range of publishers delivering their AMP compliant versions as part of the new service.
A similar activity was also undertaken by Facebook under the title of Instant Article in mid 2015 to again improve the experience for users on the most rapid growth channel for content consumption, Mobile Devices, with traffic now averaging around 40% for mobile vs desktop a lot of focus has been placed on this channel. The advantage for organisations is that now that this approach has already been tried by Facebook and has been available for nearly a year, there are some initial indicators available on viability of approach. Based on current market feed back sites using instant article have been reporting seeing improved stickiness and an increase in visits. This does reinforce the fact held by many that by improving the user experience in a meaningful way users will engage more. The question will be how this translates to revenue generation.
Google launched AMP with publishers; giving them a quicker way to formulate their pages so that they’d load quicker, and in turn aid them to get a foothold in the Google search results. As a result of this, the AMP pages have been implemented in other sections of Google’s ecosystem. AMP’s success has in turn been adopted by major players; such as LinkedIn, Reddit, and Twitter.
On the other end of the scope however, Facebook’s Instant Articles initiative has fallen out of favour with publishers. Major publishers have in turn stopped using Instant Articles, due to the fact that Facebook prioritises video as opposed to text articles in its news feed.
AMP has enabled Google to leapfrog Facebook, and become the top source of external traffic for publishers. According to web analytics company Parsley, Google now accounts for 42% of publishers’ external traffic, whereas Instant Articles just replaced publishers’ links to their sites so it didn’t grow overall referrals from Facebook to publishers’ external traffic.
Publishers can’t ignore Facebook, with its sheer audience size, but see a lot more to gain these days from cozying up to Google and AMP, simply because of the traffic boosts that AMP gives, and we have to say you can’t blame them.