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

The AMP spec is open source and defines a very strict subset of HTML and CSS that produce pages with reliably predictable performance. On-page JavaScript (i.e. interactivity) is not allowed, and JavaScript has to be included in a sandboxed way.

To aid discovery of AMP content, you add tags on your existing content pointing to its AMP counterpart.

Content monetization

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.

Analytics

AMPs support generic pixel tracking, as well as analytics from Parse.ly, Chartbeat, and Adobe Analytics.

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.

Links

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.

Content monetization

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.

Analytics

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.

Links

Apple News

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).

Content monetization

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%).

Analytics

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.

Links

Other content distribution channels

Two other channels to consider are:

Need more help?

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Image source: Which way do I go?, by Pat Pilon.