Facebook has announced that its instant articles platform is now fully compatible with Google’s AMP format and Apple News. This move will make it easier and less time-intensive for content creators to publish content across multiple mobile-optimized platforms. More importantly for Facebook, it could make the social network the first place creators go when they’re building mobile content. But those in the mobile marketing world worry that Facebook’s rocky relationship with publishers may keep content creators at bay.
Update Based on Publisher Feedback
Facebook’s switch to the Instant Articles platform was brought about by consultation between Facebook and prominent content creators. During this consultation period, publishers told Facebook that marking up content for mobile-optimized formats was a time-intensive and costly process. That was especially true for publishers creating content for multiple platforms, since that meant taking the time to mark up each piece of content two or three times.
In response, Facebook updated its open-source Software Development Kit (SDK). With the update, creators can mark-up a piece of content in Instant Articles’ style editor, then convert that mark-up for the format’s two most prominent competitors: Google’s AMP and Apple News. This way, publishers creating content for multiple formats only need to mark-up each piece of content one time — so long as they do so through Instant Articles.
Change Comes as Instant Articles Struggling
By offering a one-stop solution for mobile content mark-up, Facebook could make itself the first choice for online publishers. But those involved in mobile marketing and publishing believe that Facebook’s decision has less to do with making publishers’ lives easier and more to do with the struggles of the Instant Articles format.
Both Instant Articles and AMP were released around the same time, roughly two years ago. In the time since, Instant Articles has struggled. Publishers have been frustrated by mediocre performance, tepid audience growth, and Facebook’s prioritization of video content. Meanwhile, AMP has flourished, with more than two billion AMP pages now populating the wed.
Helping publishers create AMP content is seen by many in mobile marketing as a concession by Facebook that AMP has developed a much more popular format. After all, if Instant Articles were outpacing AMP articles, it’s unlikely that Facebook would make it easier for publishers to create AMP content.
Whether or not the change brings publishers back to Instant Articles remains to be seen. But for now, creators who publish across multiple mobile formats could have an easier time marking up their content.