In practice, Instant Articles typically do reach more people, because people are more likely to read and share them. But as the format spread, competition increased, and any advantage to using Instant Articles was blunted within months. Given that Instant Articles were designed to carry less advertising than mobile web articles, broad reach was essential to ensure publishers would profit from the format. The reach just never arrived.
In a presentation at the Social Media Week conference in February, The Verge’s audience engagement editor, Helen Havlak, presented a slide comparing views of traditional Verge links posted to Facebook to Verge Instant Articles as a percentage of overall Facebook traffic. It showed that article views from Facebook were essentially flat in 2016, with Instant Articles representing a larger share of that traffic over time. Viewed in this light, Instant Articles had simply replaced one kind of view with another, less profitable one.
Simo says that the News Feed is becoming more of a multimedia experience over time, and that Instant Articles — which support video — is part of that. […] And so for publishers that do their journalism primarily by linking to text, the News Feed appears increasingly forbidding.
If publishers are down on Facebook Instant Articles, they’re increasingly effusive about Apple News as a platform partner.
Apple News, a pre-installed app on Apple phones and tablets, has long been the distant No. 3 in platform publishing initiatives. Introduced in 2015, Apple News didn’t elicit the kind of excitement Facebook got with IA and Google with its Accelerated Mobile Pages. But in recent months, Apple began sending more traffic publishers’ way and letting them sell subscriptions on the news aggregation app. Kunal Gupta, CEO of branded content platform Polar, which works with premium publishers, estimates that for those publishers that are benefiting big, Apple News is supplying 10-15 percent of their mobile traffic.
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