It may not be the end of walled gardens, but it’s a step in the right direction. Amid growing disillusionment among publishers with Facebook’s Instant Articles, the social network is hoping to win back some favor by making its publishing service compatible with other major platforms.
But it remains to be seen whether such concessions will make up for shortcomings on the advertising front.
Facebook’s Instant Articles publishing tools will now support Google AMP, a rival system for creating and distributing fast-loading multimedia content, saving time and data for consumers. There are also plans to add Apple News in the near future, according to a new blog post from Facebook Media partner engineering director Piyush Mangalick.
That should make it easier and less time-consuming for publishers to distribute content on the different platforms, using virtually identical custom elements including fonts, colors and captions.
To enable cross-platform publishing Facebook is introducing an open-source software development kit that supports code for Google Amp, Mangalick revealed: “The updated SDK transforms the markup publishers use to create Instant Articles to generate the code needed to build these other formats, removing what we’ve heard can be a resource-heavy step in publishing on multiple platforms.”
The move to open up Instant Articles on the publishing end is intended to win back some market share from Google AMP and Apple News – ironically enough, by making it easier to publish content on all three. That removes any additional labor cost to publishing on Facebook as well another platform.
As noted, however, the ease of creating and distributing content hasn’t been publishers’ only complaint about Facebook Instant Articles, as restrictions on the number and placement of ads also hamper efforts to monetize their audiences.
A number of publishers have withdrawn from Instant Articles over these monetization concerns, including The New York Times and The Guardian.Facebook has made modest concessions in an effort to address these concerns. In March, for example, it announced that publishers may place ads after every 250 words of editorial content in Instant Articles, compared to the previous proportion of one ad for every 350 words.
So far, however, these tweaks don’t seem to be sparking much renewed interest among publishers.