The initiative will reportedly instantly show readers cached Web pages from publishers’ sites, without technically hosting them, cutting drastically down on load times.
It also makes things increasingly clear that every platform is angling for a way to help publishers distribute their content — and publishers feel like the belles of the ball.
“The great new thing that’s being added to the mix is that there’s competition among the big distributors for content,” said Wall Street Journal chief innovation officer Edward Roussel at the Digital Media Strategies conference in New York on Thursday. “And that I’d argue strengthens the content providers’ hands.”
Publishers have always struggled to find the balance between riding the traffic wave of ascending tech platforms without ceding too much control to third parties. That balance has been further tested by the platforms’ newfound interest in hosting publishers’ content themselves. But publishers say that all the interest from Snapchat, Facebook, Apple and now Google and Twitter has effectively created a seller’s market for sites looking for new places to distribute.
That idea upsets the conventional wisdom about the balance of power between tech companies and publishers, which has never seemed more lopsided. Publishers, particularly legacy ones, are losing both attention and ad dollars to the likes of Snapchat and Facebook, whose prospects continue to climb. But tech companies have their own pressures. They don’t create their own content, for starters. But Facebook, Snapchat and Apple all want to keep users within their own walls and are willing to give publishers the right deals to make that happen. (Google and Twitter will, technically, not host content under its “instant articles” scheme, but will speed up access to it.)
At least for now.
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