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Apple, Facebook and Google Have Gone to War for the Mobile Web

So far, 2016 has seen the public release of three new tools from Internet giants Apple, Facebook and Google. Each of the giants has released tools designed to steer content creators towards using the new publishing tools as a means for content to be released on mobile devices.

At the core, each of these three services is designed to improve the user experience of consuming content on a mobile device. 40% of mobile users will abandon a web site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Each of these services are designed with speed in mind, limiting the amount of extraneous code that loads on a page, and thus catapulting content to users at speeds up to 10X of traditional mobile web.

Each of the platforms has a unique interest in steering users to consume content more often on their native platforms, as they can then charge advertisers for impressing on those readers. Apple has News Publisher; Google has AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and Facebook has Instant Articles. All three are different in their approach to publishers releasing content on their platforms – each is indicative of the strengths and business model of each company.

Let me explain:

Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook has become a mobile platform. 1.44 billion of its 1.59 billion monthly active users are also monthly mobile users, and over half of Facebook users access the service only on mobile devices. This trend is not unique to Facebook, and thus Facebook has an interest in growing its impact by encouraging long form content producers to flock to the platform. Historically, Facebook has not been seen as a place to publish longer pieces of the content; the user experience on the platform hasn’t encouraged it.

Apple News Publisher

Debuting with iOS 9 last September, the Apple News app has been closed to but a few choice publishers that got to beta the platform. Apple’s eventual play of course will be to sell ad space in the app, monetizing content for publishers in a more consistent way than what they may have access to on their own mobile platforms.

The platform still demands that brands be approved to publish in the App, but for some enterprise brands this is a huge opportunity to join a more quality group of publishers, where Facebook and Google offerings are more of a free-for-all.

Google AMP

Google has known for years  that mobile devices would eventually overtake desktop computers as the technology of choice for consumers using search engines. In 2015, mobile search overtook desktop search in 10 countries, including the U.S.

Google’s increased focus on mobile hit a fever pitch for web marketers in 2015. “Mobilgeddon” as search professionals  called it forced many web sites to create mobile-friendly versions of their web properties, or risk not showing up in mobile search results. Accelerated Mobile Pages is just another step in this direction, even if Google says that activating amp isn’t a ranking factor yet.

What do these changes mean for my brand?

In a nutshell, brands need to be evaluating these platforms on their own merits and judging the overall alignment of each mobile platform for alignment with digital strategy. It’s important to consider that publishing in multiple places can sometimes mean cannibalization of other channels.

Some brands will choose one, all or none of the platforms to utilize. Regardless, the new platforms offer clear advantages for early adopters to capture new audience as new habits are formed around Instant Articles, Apple News and Google AMP pages.