Google-Twitter Team Up To Beat FB's 'Instant Articles'

by CXOtoday News Desk    Sep 14, 2015


Search engine giant Google and micro-blogging site Twitter have reportedly teamed up to provide media houses and publishers a better and quicker platform to display their stories on smartphones.  This is an attempt to protect the Web from the onslaught of mobile applications and steer publishers away from the closed, proprietary systems that are being built by companies like Facebook, Apple and Snapchat.

After heated debates for many years on whether newspapers will cease to exist, it’s clear that news itself will thrive no matter what the medium is. This is evident as every Silicon Valley tech giant wants are scouting for the headlines these days to look current. Not only that, they are further looking to host the stories, pictures and videos on their own platforms, along with the lucrative advertisements that usually accompany the news.

Challenging rivals

Tech website Recode reported citing multiple sources about a feature that will show instant articles to users who click on a link in Twitter or in Google search results. The full articles will pop up on their screens almost immediately. The difference between the Google-Twitter move and other mobile publishing projects by rivals is that they will not host publishers’ content, it says.

At present, Google makes most of its money by selling ads on websites. This also includes its own search page. Meanwhile, Twitter, which relies heavily on conversations around news articles for its traffic, wants to ‘retain’ visitors on its platform for a longer duration. The partnership can help in greater visibility and also prominently display tweets embedded on Web pages.

The Google-Twitter effort will be open sourced and is expected to launch soon with a small group of publishers. The new solution will help readers see stories from “cached” pages from publishers’ websites instantly. Eileen Murphy, a New York Times spokeswoman, confirmed to certain media that The Times was one of those initial partners and has been helping Google develop the format.

Currently, Facebook is the largest source of referral traffic for many news publishers. The social media site began testing a format called ‘Instant Articles’ in May with some of the leading publishers like The Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic and NBC News. Facebook hosts the content on its social network and presents it in a streamlined format that loads up to 10 times faster than a typical mobile Web article. 

Getting closer to publishers

While Google still dominates Web search, Facebook is wooing more publishers. In July, Facebook eclipsed Google for the share of referral traffic to publishers — about 40 percent versus 38 percent for Google. Just two years ago, Facebook drove about 12 percent of referral traffic to publishers, according to a firm tracking web publishing sites, says a TOI report.

Apple also said it will roll out curated news content from many publishers through an Apple News app built into the latest version of its operating system for iPhones and iPads. And Snapchat, a messaging service, has been working with publishers on custom article formats for its app.

The move is one of several Google initiatives meant to increase its influence with publishers, believe experts. The company is also exploring ways to use its search engine to increase traffic to high-quality publisher content.