March 28, 2016 | Business | by Xavi Beumala

The Fight to Speed Up Mobile News

The strategic focus for publishers today is to grow their audience base, specifically on mobile. Analyzing where traffic is coming from, content users read, and ultimately what is engaging visitors are all key data points that help publishers refine their mobile strategy and user experience. Page loading times have been getting quite a bit of attention since it has been recognized as a key influencer in retaining users – so much so that Google, Apple, and Facebook are investing much efforts in speeding up the mobile news with Google AMP, Apple News Format, and Facebook Instant Articles.

And so the fight to speed up the mobile news is on! With Google making their AMP’s announcement a month ago and publishers anticipating the Facebook Instant Articles announcement in April it seems that Apple jumped on the bandwagon opening up the Apple News Format today to any publisher upon approval. Beforehand, they only allowed 100 news partners to use the platform.

With Apple News Format the company is focusing their efforts on the mobile user experience, minimizing page loading times, and offering better metrics for mobile advertising. Apple states on their website “with Apple News Format, you can create signature content for News. Beautiful typography, rich photo galleries, videos, and fun animations bring your articles to life. You can author once, and News will optimize your content for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, so your readers will have a great experience no matter which device they’re using.”

However for publishers, Facebook Instant Articles can be a crucial method of getting in front of their customer base on mobile devices since Forrester Research’s data states that 80% of mobile users spend their time in just 5 apps – Facebook being at the top of that list. It is becoming increasingly clear that Facebook is becoming a platform where users consume the news and a huge source of traffic for media outlets.

Parse.ly, a firm that specializes in traffic analytics announced findings back in August that Facebook has well surpassed Google in directing traffic to publishers’ sites. The report notes that Facebook send 43% of traffic to Parse.ly’s media network, which includes 400 major media outlets. So it’s not surprising that Facebook would want to host the content as well, hence Facebook Instant Articles.

So the fight is on with the three giants competing to create a better user experience, faster mobile web, and ad analytics to help publishers maximize ad campaigns. The result – users no longer have to wait 8 plus seconds for news sites to load and they get an overall enhanced user experience. Not too bad for the end user.