Apple News, Facebook Instant Articles & Google AMP: Worth it?

scottstiles Scott Stiles | January 13, 2017 Comments
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If your website’s ROI is important to you (and even if it’s not), mobile page speed should be a top priority. Recent data shows that 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s less time than it takes to read this sentence!

Luckily, the giants Facebook, Apple and Google are going at it, mano a mano…..a mano, in a race to give us the best UIs, fastest load times, and highest earning potentials (all while making a buck for themselves, of course). Each platform makes static content such as blog posts and news articles, load more quickly on mobile devices and provide a more immersive and app-like experience. 

All we need to do is figure out which horse to bet on. Right?

Apple News

Apple distributes news articles via their own proprietary News app found on modern iOS devices. As is the tradition with Apple, the focus is first on user experience with blazing speed and beautiful layouts. You’ll also appreciate the ease and customizability of their publishing process.

However, clear statistics of how many users actually view Apple News are hard to come by and keep in mind that your viewership is strictly limited to those flaunting Apple swag. There might be a big opportunity for early adopters but if you’re going to pick one platform not to join….this may be it.

Facebook Instant Articles (FBIA)

As the name suggests, Facebook uses its proprietary systems to deliver your content instantly.  Publishers are required to have at least 50 articles, maintain an active Facebook page, and use Facebook’s Business Manager application to format and control presentation. 

Like Apple, Instant Articles are bound to the Facebook ecosystem, precluding many other content-sharing channels. But with 1.18 billion active users each day, joining the program may be a no-brainer for your organization.

Google AMP

No to be out-done, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative is open source and can be shared across multiple platforms. Where Facebook and Apple’s closed ecosystems limit monetization possibilities and reader experience, AMP leaves the door wide open.

Content publishers like WordPress.com, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter are already on board and with Google adding the technology to their various products, it seems probable that the AMP format will become the de facto standard for static content viewed on mobile devices.

Is Your Sitefinity Content Ready?

At the time of this article, Sitefinity does not officially “support” AMP (or any other custom format) straight out of the box. 

The good news is that Sitefinity stores your structured data (news, events, etc.) separately from the presentation. Using the generated RSS feeds, you can take advantage of FBIA and Apple News imports and with a few tweaks to your widget templates, full AMP compliance isn’t far off. 

Checkout this GitHub from Progress developer Tim Williamson for an easy example of AMP compliant widget templates. 

Are You Ready?

The focus on speed and good mobile readability is something that is very welcome, and these platforms are leading the charge. Examining the pros and cons of each can help you determine your own strategy around this new generation of mobile-content apps.

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