A CMO's guide to AMPs, IAs, and Apple News
Confused about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), Facebook Instant Articles (IAs), Apple News, and other upcoming content distribution channels? This explainer will help.
Sections of this explainer:
What are they?
Google Accelerated Mobile Pages, Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, and others are new content distribution channels optimized primarily for consuming static content on mobile devices. Interactive content (like data visualizations) is not supported by all platforms, and the support may not match your needs.
The main problem they aim to solve is that loading pages on mobile devices is very slow. The reasons for this are many, but the solutions the platforms offer are all conceptually similar. Each has specific technical requirements, and the requirements are different. This means you will need to experiment and prioritize which channels you invest in.
They all depend on your existing website and do not replace it. Instead each platform creates a new optimized copy that it serves to its users.
Now we will explain each one in detail.
Accelerated Mobile Pages project
The Accelerated Mobile Pages project is an industry collaboration including Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and others (but currently excludes Facebook and Apple). At the time of writing, Google and Yahoo! are promising enhanced presentation and fast-loading of AMP content in search results. Twitter and Pinterest will use AMP content directly in their native mobile apps.
Google is also promising a worldwide caching content distribution network (CDN) to host AMP content.
How it works
To aid discovery of AMP content, you add tags on your existing content pointing to its AMP counterpart.
AMPs support publisher-sold inventory, as well as a selection of existing large ad networks, including: A9, AdReactor, AdSense, AdTech, AOL, Doubleclick, Outbrain, and OpenX.
A spec for Paywalls and subscriptions is in the works.
How to join
As it is based on the open web, there isn't a formal approval process. Simply start serving AMP content and the supporting services will start using it. In the next two months, Google will start showing AMP content it discovers on the web in it search results.
Facebook Instant Articles
Instant Articles is a way for publishers to create and distribute content only on Facebook. It is a closed beta that publishers need to ask to join.
The main promise of IAs is that Facebook's native apps will be able to cache and load the content shared on Facebook very quickly, instead of waiting for the content to be fetched over the mobile network.
How it works
Firstly, you need an existing Facebook Page and an Admin or Editor role on the Page. You will also need the Pages app to preview, test, and debug Instant Articles
Like AMPs, IAs are built on a specific flavor of HTML, and you can share the content with Facebook as a feed.
Publishers can sell and serve their own display advertisements, keeping 100% of revenue, or use display ads from Facebook's Audience Network, from which revenue Facebook takes a cut.
IAs are compatible with existing analytics tags, but they need to be embedded in a specific way. Facebook has also partnered with comScore so that IAs receive comScore traffic attribution.
How to join
You ask Facebook to join the program.
Apple News is an iOS app for which publishers can produce content.
How it works
Once you are approved as a publisher, you can share your content as a feed, either in RSS format or the upcoming Apple News Format, or use a content management API. All of these can be integrated into your existing content management system (CMS).
News content is monetized using iAd adverts, only if it is using Apple News Format. A publisher can sell inventory, and keep 100% of revenue, or enable iAd backfill or other ads, from which Apple takes a cut (50% or 30%).
Apple offers CSV download of analytics, for both channel-level and article-level data, and only for usage in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia for the past 30 days. This means you will need to set up a new analytics pipeline to download and analyze the Apple News analytics data.
How to join
You use News Publisher tool to register and get approved as a publisher, as well as set up your channel and feed.
Other content distribution channels
Two other channels to consider are:
upday, a news aggregator solely for Samsung mobile devices. It's built as a partnership between Axel Springer and Samsung Electronics. Other publishers can ask to join by emailing email@example.com.
It is not clear how the content is shared with upday, or how monetization and analytics work.
Flipboard. It is a digital "magazine" to which you add content. Ads can be served against the content.
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Image source: Which way do I go?, by Pat Pilon.