Apple News vs Facebook Instant Articles

Written on 10 August, 2015 by Karen Lam
Categories: Marketing, Social Media | Tags: apple, content, facebook, social media, technology

Last month, Apple announced its News app, a sleek new reader for iOS 9 that will aggregate news stories from major publishers and serve them up to users based on their interests and behaviours. The announcement came about a month after Facebook launched Instant Articles, a feature streamlining the click-to-read function for publishers. So how do they compare?

At surface level, the platforms are extremely similar. Dig a little deeper, however, and the subtle differences reveal how one might outdo the other.

The competition

The revenue-sharing model on both platforms is exactly the same – publishers are offered 100 per cent of the revenue from advertising they sell themselves within articles and 70 per cent of the revenue if the platform does the selling. Apple has announced that the platform will be available to all publishers, while Facebook is rolling out the service with hand-picked partners.

Facebook is the winner in the data game as it allows publishers multiple analytics tools that will ensure they retain data on their readers, while Apple has stressed that nothing from the app will be shared with third parties.

Apple could take the cake when it comes to return visits and long-term engagement as it will give publishers the ability to promote subscriptions, newsletters and other direct interactions. It is also hiring human editors for part of the news-selection process, while Facebook relies solely on its sophisticated algorithms.

Given that The New York Times and BuzzFeed have signed up as major partners for both services, it looks like neither platform will be forcing publishers to exclusivity. In the early days, it will be very interesting to see how publishers and their advertisers are represented on each.

The buzz for brands

Since advertisers follow where the publishers go, the question of what this new wave of publishing (which includes Snapchat’s Discover feature and Flipboard) means for brand campaigns remains.

Audience-wise, many brand-publisher partnerships will reap the benefits of a larger and more engaged audience. Niche or luxury brands, on the other hand, will want to be wary of how the platform changes their partner publisher’s audience demographic to avoid paying for ads that reach the wrong eyes.

Advertising types will likely need a rethink to ensure they work for the context, add value for the reader and are highly compatible across all devices. Furthermore, most major brands are now content creators themselves, and eventually these two models could wind up being another way for companies to push their owned content out to the world. Watch this space.

Do you like Facebook’s Instant Articles function, and do you think Apple can compete?