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AMP vs. Facebook Instant Articles: The Pros, Cons & Why Advertisers Prefer AMP

by Stephanie Mialki in AMP, Facebook Advertising AMP preferred over Facebook Instant Articles

It’s no secret that Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising and that mobile surpassed desktop as the primary way people access digital content. Knowing those key pieces of information, it’s easy to see why the two powerhouses each helped spearhead initiatives to improve users’ mobile web experiences.

Starting with Facebook Instant Articles (FIA) in 2015, and followed by Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in 2016, both features share the common goal of delivering fast-loading mobile pages that use less data than desktop pages. So which should you incorporate into your mobile advertising strategy: AMP or Facebook Instant Articles?

What’s the difference between AMP and FIA?

Facebook Instant Articles are news articles from third-party publishers that appear directly in the Facebook mobile app News Feed, filling a user’s entire mobile screen when clicked:

Users have the ability to tap the screen to expand images:

Tilt their device to see more of an image:

And even view interactive maps:

AMP pages can be displayed on users’ mobile web browsers on search results pages. They can be distinguished from typical search results because they appear in a carousel at the top of the SERP, with a publication logo, lightning bolt icon, and thumbnail image:

As far as how each feature works — Facebook Instant Articles are built using HTML5. Publishers are required to submit a properly formatted sample to Facebook before they can distribute any content. Once that has been approved, they can then manage Instant Articles directly from their existing content management systems, either through the Instant Articles API or with a secure RSS feed.

Rather than building an entirely new product, Google chose to optimize the traditional mobile web experience. The key with AMP is preloading, meaning caching and prerendering content before a user even taps on an article. Since the loading process is faster with fewer assets to load, Google helped create a stripped down version of HTML called AMP HTML.

Where FIA prides itself on enhanced multimedia and rich storytelling capabilities (see above), AMP emphasizes static content (by limiting JavaScript and third-party scripts) to decrease page load times dramatically.

How do AMP and FIA affect advertising?

Both AMP and FIA have positive effects on advertising.

AMP articles load 4x faster than standard web pages (in about 1.4 seconds), and use 10x less data. That’s largely why the number of AMP pages skyrocketed from 125 million in 2016 to 2 billion in 2017.

Facebook Instant Articles also load much faster than standard mobile web pages — about 10x faster, in about 0.001 seconds. Additionally, these articles are shared 30% more often and are 70% less likely to be abandoned.

However, while there are plenty of reasons to leverage either AMP or FIA as part of your mobile marketing strategy, consider the following.

AMP pros

  • AMPs show in a carousel on SERPs, gaining more exposure
  • On a daily basis, AMP articles are viewed 3x more than FIA articles
  • The AMP symbol next to articles in search results may incline more people to click and read
  • AMP pages power additional parts of Google’s ecosystem, including Newsstand and content suggestions in Google Chrome
  • AMP is open-source and partnered with other popular platforms, including Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Bing, and Flipboard
  • The AMP Validator allows you to identify and remove any errors from mobile web pages, so they are AMP-compliant
  • AMP has helped Google overtake Facebook as the top source of external traffic for publishers, now accounting for 42% of publishers’ external traffic

AMP cons

  • Aside from various AMP components you can add, AMPs contain little room for individuality, primarily because of the JavaScript and CSS limitations (however, Google is releasing more templates through AMP start)
  • Measuring and tracking AMP metrics can be difficult because AMPs are stored and tracked differently than standard mobile pages and the framework is only supported by a few analytics platforms
  • Google serves cached versions of AMPs so they load faster, but this means your original content may not serve right away — only a copy cached and stored elsewhere

FIA pros

  • FIA offer custom display themes that reflect your brand identity, and allow publishers to post “branded content
  • Instant Articles can include an embedded email lead capture field and other related content at the bottom
  • Facebook added an AMP support extension to the Software Development Kit used to build Instant Articles, so people with FIA can easily convert them to AMP pages
  • FIA can be managed directly from publishers’ existing content management systems

FIA cons

  • Publishers have expressed difficulty fitting Instant Articles into their business models
  • The use of Instant Articles has stagnated as Facebook increasingly prioritizes video over text articles in its news feed (several prominent publishers, including The New York Times and the Guardian, have stopped using FIA completely)
  • FIA are tightly controlled by Facebook and only available to Facebook users; not discoverable through a web search or other third party sites or apps
  • Facebook takes a 30% cut of the profit when publishers use the Audience Network to earn revenue via ads (100% can be kept by selling your own ads, but Facebook limits how many can be placed within an article)
  • Facebook is foremost a social platform with a fundamental goal of getting users to spend more time inside the app, so it primarily shows posts from friends and family, rather than publishers
  • Since FIA are opened directly in the Facebook app, people can’t be directed to your mobile post-click landing page, limiting their experience with your brand

AMP vs Facebook Instant Articles: Which will you choose?

With most faceoffs, each side has its advantages and disadvantages. Google AMP vs. Facebook Instant Articles is no exception. But the bottom line is: despite their few downfalls, both AMP and FIA exist to improve users’ mobile web experiences by delivering fast-loading mobile pages.

With the new AMP feature in Instapage, you can create fast-loading AMP post-click pages in just minutes, using a designer-friendly builder, built-in validator tool, advanced analytics, and more. If you’re an Enterprise customer, sign into your account and start building AMP post-click landing pages immediately. If not, request an AMP demo and experience the Instapage difference yourself.

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Stephanie Mialki

by Stephanie Mialki

Stephanie Mialki is a digital marketing professional with expertise in ecommerce trends, landing pages, journalism, and mass communication.

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