World Association of News Publishers

Distributed Content – Part 1: What it all means to news publishing strategy

Distributed Content – Part 1: What it all means to news publishing strategy


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In 2015, a perfect storm hit the publishing world. Smartphones had become the predominant means of accessing information, and user frustration with web-page loading times was snowballing. So several of the biggest and most influential technology companies on the planet rolled out technologies to host publishers' articles on their own platforms. The ostensible aim was simple: to render information more quickly on smartphones. The implications, though, are far-reaching indeed.

The movement, which has been dubbed “distributed content,” but is also known as “platform publishing” or even sometimes as “homeless publishing,” was initiated by Facebook. In spring 2015, the social media giant launched Instant Articles, a way of formatting editorial content that replaces an outward link to a publisher’s website with text, images and occasionally video hosted directly on the social platform.

A groundswell of content initiatives

Facebook was soon joined by Apple. In the latest version of iOS, users are presented with an app simply called News, that, like Instant Articles, presents content from a wide selection of publishers that the user can customize to his liking, mimicking news aggregation apps like Flipboard, but with a much larger selection of big-name publishers.

In the meantime, the messaging app Snapchat, popular with millennials, launched a service called Snapchat Discover, which presents editorial content that has been formatted to target a younger audience, but is limited to a small number of publishers.

Twitter joined the distributed content fray in October of last year by introducing Moments, a feature that allows publishers to present breaking news in a more sophisticated way then the normal Twitter timeline would allow. And in late 2015, Facebook launched its own news-messaging service called Notify.

Lastly (but by no means least), Google launched its own initiative: Accelerated Mobile Pages, or Google AMP for short. An open-source effort that aims at speeding up the display of web pages on mobile devices, Google AMP is not a platform per se, but rather a technology framework that can be used by publishers without having to let go of their content. In that respect it is profoundly different from Instant Articles. Nonetheless, Google is clearly targeting Facebook in what looks like a bare-knuckle fight to dominate the mobile advertising market.

From the table of contents:


  • A revolution with many names

Chapter 1 – Early Initiatives In 2016: The State Of Technology

  • Three market leaders – all completely different
  • Facebook Instant Articles
  • Google AMP
  • Snapchat Discover
  • The best of the rest

Chapter 2 – How Publishers Are Using Distributed Content

  • It’s the questions that matter
  • Facebook: A question of expectations
  • The promise of Google AMP
  • Are the rest just also-rans?

Chapter 3 – Where Do We Go From Here?

  • Simple questions – but few simple answers
  • Perspectives



Andreas Pfeiffer


WAN-IFRA's picture



2016-04-19 15:51

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