In fact, the big winner to date has been Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative, which launched later that year with similar goals — faster page loads and a better reading experience.From Recode: During its developer conference this week, Google announced that 31 million websites are using AMP, up 25 percent since October.This chart doesn’t include Instant Articles specifically, but most accounts suggest the initiative is faltering: the Columbia Journalism Review posited that more than half of Instant Articles’ launch partners had abandoned the format, and Jonah Peretti, the CEO of Buzz Feed, the largest publisher to remain committed to the format, has taken to repeatedly criticizing Facebook for not sharing sufficient revenue with publications committed to the platform.The relative success of Instant Articles versus AMP is a reminder that managing an ecosystem is a different skill that building one.That’s according to Chartbeat, a publisher analytics company whose clients include the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post and ESPN.Chartbeat says that the composition of its network didn’t materially change in that time.Google says these fast-loading mobile webpages keep people from abandoning searches and by extension drive more traffic to websites.
2015 may have been the nadir in terms of the user experience of the web, and in Why Web Pages Suck, I pinned the issue on publishers’ broken business model: If you begin with the premise that web pages need to be free, then the list of stakeholders for most websites is incomplete without the inclusion of advertisers…Advertisers’ strong preference for programmatic advertising is why it’s so problematic to only discuss publishers and users when it comes to the state of ad-supported web pages: if advertisers are only spending money — and a lot of it — on programmatic advertising, then it follows that the only way for publishers to make money is to use programmatic advertising…
The price of efficiency for advertisers is the user experience of the reader.
The problem for publishers, though, is that dollars and cents — which come from advertisers — are a far more scarce resource than are page views, leaving publishers with a binary choice: provide a great user experience and go out of business, or muddle along with all of the baggage that relying on advertising networks entails.
Critically, that monetization was not limited to Google’s own ad networks: from the beginning AMP has been committed to supporting multiple ad networks, which sidestepped the trap Facebook found itself in.
By not taking responsibility for publisher monetization Google made AMP more attractive than Instant Articles, which took responsibility and then failed to deliver.