A common theme is emerging with Facebook Instant articles and the Guardian has just dropped both Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. Originally the Guardian was all in on the platform and was one of the first U.K media giants to adopt the format.
In addition it was one of the first to adopt Apple News going all in and releasing all of their articles on both platforms. It was one of the first publishers world wide to adopt both platforms and one of the first in terms of integration.
In an interview with Digiday a Guardian News and Media spokesperson stated the following: “We have run extensive trials on Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News to assess how they fit with our editorial and commercial objectives. Having evaluated these trials, we have decided to stop publishing in those formats on both platforms. Our primary objective is to bring audiences to the trusted environment of the Guardian to support building deeper relationships with our readers, and growing membership and contributions to fund our world-class journalism.”
The publisher no longer runs their content through either Apples News or Facebook’s instant articles today. And this is a sign of a growing trend in the editorial community and the primary reason for this wave of abandonment is that most publishers are not making enough money on these new IA pages that they do on their own.
Even the New York Times, has pulled out of the IA program siting similar issues of a decrease in revenue.
While many of publishers do continue to both integrate and remain on IA the loss of larger publishers is a bad sign for the platform as a whole. As larger publishers pull out smaller ones are likely to take a look at where their interests lie and will need to decide if there is any value on using these platforms.
While the initial draw of Instant Articles was that they loaded much faster than their own sites, engagement was also higher. The downside though is the platform keeps content within the Facebook app preventing publishers from monetizing their content effectively and increasing bounce rates.
The Guardian, under pressure to cut costs and boost revenue, is pushing forwards with its paying membership scheme, and for it to keep building that successfully it must prioritize driving readers back to its own site, where it can ask them to donate or become a paying member, as well as serve advertising.