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Google and Facebook took a big step forward by initiating solutions for enhancing mobile user’s experiences. The main motto for this initiate was to make website loading time faster and use less data than desktop pages.

First initiative was launched by Facebook, who came up with Instant Articles (FBIA) in June 2015; and shortly after it was followed by Google, who introduces Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in February 2016.

But what are these solutions?
What’s the difference between them?
Which one could be the ideal option?

Trust me! It is quite easy to get confused about these solutions. But I have great news! In this post I’m going to discuss in detail about both these services and provide you a side by side comparison based of various important factors.

What are they?

Google AMP is an open source technology for creating light-weight mobile web pages. It creates a new version of each page with an AMP HTML file, JavaScript framework and AMP CDN (Content Delivery Network), which automatically caches websites and loads from Google’s high-speed servers. AMP articles appear inside your mobile web browser on Google search results pages. The only thing that distinguishes them from typical search results is that they appear in a carousel at the top of the search results page and feature publication logos and thumbnail images that help them stand out. Google AMP has started to being used on various platforms such as Google Search, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. To know in detail about Google AMP you can read my previous blog “The What, Why, How, and Who on Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) ”.

Facebook Instant Articles is a mobile optimized html5 document for mobile users, which is visible for readers to read articles on its mobile app (iOS or Android). It allows publishers to host their content on Facebook (apart from the publisher’s own website). Facebook Instant Articles works inside the Facebook app, allowing brands to publish articles directly into Facebook’s News Feed rather than relying on outbound links. That means users can open and read entire articles within the app. This is a huge advantage for them, as it gives users one less reason to leave the app.

How do they Work?

Instant Articles come with a number of multimedia bells and whistles, including auto playing videos, interactive maps, and zoom able photos. These articles are built using HTML5, and publishers are required to submit properly formatted samples to be approved by Facebook’s Article Team before they can begin distributing to Instant Articles. Once they’ve been approved, they can directly sync Instant Articles from their existing content management systems, either through the Instant Articles API or with a secure RSS feed.

Google Accelerated Mobile Pages work a bit differently. Google AMP emphasizes static content over interactive, disallowing JavaScript and third-party scripts, two features that are common to modern webpages.

Who all can see them?

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages are visible for mobile users searching on Google. Once you publish an AMP-optimised website, mobile visitors will be redirected to it.

Facebook Instant Articles are visible for users reading articles in their Facebook app only.

Who are they for?

From knowing about these formats, it is clearly visible that for now, both these formats are ideal for those who are from any content related industry. Websites that publish content on a regular basis, such as news organizations or blogging sites, are the ones who should be thinking about adding these formats. Ofcourse you need to keep in mind what proportion of your website published content relies on Facebook sharing or Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc sharing.

Which one is better for you?

1. Assurance

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages program is an open-source initiative for all. It is an initiative totally supported by Google to create your webpages in AMP format for a better user experience. Google AMP says:

  • 4X – Faster load than standard mobile web pages.
  • 10X – Less data usage.

Facebook is allowing any content publisher to apply to the Instant Articles program. Facebook says:

  • 10X – Faster than standard mobile web articles.
  • 20% – More Instant Articles read on average.
  • 70% – Less Likely to Abandon the Article.
  • 30% – More shares on Facebook.

2. Traffic

Google AMP: People clicking on an AMP article will visit that page hosted on Google’s servers. Once the user clicks on another article through content recommendation or from the menu that doesn’t have an AMP version, the user will be redirected to the publisher’s site.

Facebook IA: Facebook mobile users clicking on your shared article won’t visit your website directly, since they will see the Instant Article hosted on Facebook. But once they click on another article link that doesn’t have an Instant Article version (through content recommendation or internal links embedded into an IA), they will be redirected to your site.

3. Visibility

Google AMP: AMP articles appear inside your mobile web browser on Google search results pages. They may also appear on other social platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

Facebook IA: Facebook Instant Articles only appear inside the Facebook app. Note that after publishing your article on your website, it won’t be posted automatically on your Facebook account/page.

4. Lead Generation

Google AMP: The lead generating oppurtunities in this format are restricted because of form generations are currently not allowed (Although you may use lead-capturing forms using iframe).

Facebook IA: Facebook lets publishers put a newsletter sign-up message at the bottom of their Instant Article, providing an opportunity to generate leads and make more direct relationships with their readers. You can even like, share and send the IA.

5. Ads

Google AMP: You have full control over the ads and how you sell it. The only glitch being that you have to choose an ad partner from the Google’s official partners.

Facebook IA: One large and one or two small banners for every 350 words of content is provided to publishers. There are two options available to be selected from. One is – sell ads yourselves which entitles you to 100% of revenue generated from ads and the other is – allow Facebook to handle the ad selling which entitles you to 70% of revenue generated and lets Facebook keep 30%.

Expert Talk

Undoubtedly both Google and Facebook connect with massive audiences on a daily basis. Google processes more than 4 billion searches per day, while more than 1.7 billion users of Facebook spend more than 50 minutes of their time surfing on Facebook.

You need to ask yourself these questions:
1. Who is our audience?
2. How do they currently access our content?
3. What is more beneficial — organic search audience or social sharing audience?

If the answer is that your website publishes content regularly and relies on Facebook sharing for a significant portion of your traffic, then joining Facebook Instant Articles is mandatory.
And if you are a publisher whose content relies on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Search sharing then adding Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages is suitable for you.

Although, if you ask me then in my opinion AMP being an open source and supported by many additional platforms, is likely to be standardized and accepted in the future. While some major social platforms may stick to their own formats, but majority of the mobile development community is likely to adopt open source AMP format. Still, that doesn’t mean the prior ones will lose its importance.

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