Phillip Smith

Facebook’s Uphill Battle To Win Back Publishers — The Information

Facebook’s Uphill Battle To Win Back Publishers — The Information

Facebook is making various changes to Instant Articles, including improved data sharing and analytics and better tools for publishers to sign readers up for text alerts. But many publishers have already moved on to rival offerings from Apple and Google.

Instant Articles and AMP were at best am attempt to turn a very short-term problem (slowly loading web pages) into an opportunity to further encroach on the relationship that publishers have with readers.

Look five years out, and it’s hard to see a reason why these interventions would have been necessary at all because most large publishers were already aware of the problem. They were facing criticism for bloated pages as far back at 2013, if not earlier, and working to improve the user experience by investing in their own solutions to the problem.

All that was needed was a little incentive from platforms, e.g., “Hey, we’ll surface the fact that your articles are fast in the UI.” Just enough to get publishers working together and moving more quickly toward what is basically web standards. Platforms could have even shown the way without the complete takeover.

Now publishers need to support 2-3 more publishing formats and had to absorb the opportunity cost of that at a time when they should have been investing in speeding up their own sites and exploring new digital revenue strategies.

Another example of the tails wagging the dogs.


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


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