In 2013, it was common for publishers to be thinking not only “digital first” but also “mobile first.” By 2014, most content was being consumed this way — on mobile devices.
In 2015, many publishers began distributing content natively on social and mobile platforms, separately from their owned-and-operated properties. By 2016, most content will be consumed this way — on other people’s platforms.
You saw it this past year, with Snapchat Discover, Facebook Instant Articles, and Apple News. But those platforms were distributing content for — and sharing revenue with — a privileged few. Not everyone could get a Discover channel. For many months, you could count Instant Articles partners on two hands. The participating publishers had progressive mindsets and available resources. They were also hand-picked by the platforms.
As we turn to 2016, though, things are opening up. Facebook has scaled to something like 100 Instant Articles partners. Apple News is filling out fast. Snapchat is adding Discover channels. Google AMP is coming soon, and it will provide an Instant-like experience for not only Google users but also those using Twitter, Pinterest, and other platforms.
This is the age of distributed content, and it’s great for users that don’t like waiting for web pages to load, which is all users. It’s great for the platforms, too, as it encourages people to stick around. But is it great for publishers?
The site I run, For The Win, now feeds all of its stories into Instant Articles on Facebook. It’s early still, but (a) our content is being viewed at a higher volume than before, and (b) we’re monetizing those views at a higher rate. Will it last? And will the same be said for AMP and others?
I hope so, and I think so. We’ll know better 12 months from now, when everyone’s already doing it.