Google wants to woo publishers with this alternative to Facebook ‘Instant Articles’
Google is taking a page out of Facebook’s—er—book. And with any luck, the search giant will be taking webpages out of publishers’ books (read: websites) too, by making them faster to load and better to read.
The tech company, along with partners such as Twitter, plans to launch an open-source rival to Facebook’s “Instant Articles” initiative, the program whereby the social network hosts content from third-party publishers and makes it work better on mobile devices.
Although tech-news site Recode, which first broke the story, originally framed the product release as a joint effort between Twitter and Google (GOOG), a source familiar with the project tells Fortune that it was spearheaded by Google. Twitter (TWTR) is just one of many partners.
The new program is designed to enhance publishers’ distribution on mobile devices, a key battleground for advertisers these days. As a differentiator from Facebook’s arrangement, Google’s strategy involves using open-source tools and cached webpages—stored snapshots of a site—to speed up article load times, rather than relying on natively hosted content. A source described it as being like a souped-up version of HTML with caching built in.
Those differences may end up making the program look more appealing to publishers than alternatives like Facebook’s offering, since the giant social network also competes with publishers for ad revenue.
The business terms of Google’s model have yet to be ironed out, but a source said that since it is intended to be an open platform available to any publisher—unlike Facebook—each publisher would control their own ads and keep all the revenue. This wouldn’t preclude Google from offering some kind of revenue sharing in the future to publishers who might be open to it, of course.
Facebook (FB) has grown phenomenally in recent years, beating Google as the top referrer to news sites. Meanwhile Google has been facing international backlash for excerpting other sites’ content through its search feature. And Twitter has floundered in the midst of Wall Street’s high pressure expectations for the company.
The Google-led “Instant Articles”-like program is expected to launch with select partners this fall. Google and Twitter were not immediately available for comment.
For more on Google collaborations, watch this video below.