Facebook Inc is now the biggest source of traffic for many news sites. According to data analytics firm Parse.ly, Facebook supplies 40% of online traffic to news sites. Google, which not too long ago was the only way people found news on the web, trailed at 35%.
Facebook on top with Instant Articles
Facebook Inc rolled out Instant Articles in May with nine partners. But in just over four months, the social network has changed the way people visit news sites.
Facebook’s biggest draw was that it was a win-win situation for publishers. Not only did they get much more clicks, but in the process, also made some extra money.
Users were also happy because Facebook’s better tech ensured faster loading time. Until, then, that had been a huge damper for readers who often jumped articles that took too long to load.
“FB’s Instant Articles are a faster and better reading experience for users, as articles populate instantly within the news feed, benefiting the user, publisher and FB via potentially higher engagement. FB’s Instant Articles load on user devices instantly, eradicating load times of 5 or more seconds, a persistent issue for users and publishers,” John Blackledge at Cowen and Company said, after lifting the stock to “Outperform,” with a price target of $115.
Google Out to Dent Facebook Clout
Google realized that loading time had become a big deciding factor for users. It fell behind Facebook Inc because of that. A recent New York Times analysis found that news sites took up to 30 seconds to load their home pages. Cory Haik, executive director at The Washington Post thinks that’s an eternity in the world of casual browsing.
Google could not be a mute spectator as Facebook barged into its territory. That’s why, in partnership with Twitter Inc , it formally announced a new initiative to ensure news articles load faster on the web. Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages will give anyone who wants to use the open source software the ability to have their pages load more quickly. Wednesday’s launch was a kind of corrective step.
“The Web today, particularly in a mobile environment, is not fully satisfying users’ expectations,” Google’s head of news, Richard Gingras, said at the launch event in New York. “It’s not as fast as it should be. Pages load slowly, sometimes erratically.”
Michael Drucker, product manager at Twitter Inc, seemed to share his views. He said that his own surveys showed that users at the micro blogging site consumed much more content when pages loaded faster. “It leads to more engagement in the article.”
Besides Twitter Inc , Google’s initial partners include The New York Times, BBC and The Daily Mail.
Shares of Facebook Inc closed Wednesday at $92.40. Alphabet Inc , formerly Google Inc, ended at $670.