…he public we vow to serve who use and get their news via their platforms; we must go to them there. We need to f…he public we vow to serve who use and get their news via their platforms; we must go to them there. We need to find areas of mutual benefit with the platforms — serving more people with higher quality information and greater engagement and negotiating around issues of value (advertising opportunities and shares), relationships (we need interest data from the platforms so we can serve our users better), and terms (yes, we fear the platforms changing the deal in the future, but we can also negotiate with the awareness that the last thing Silicon Valley technology companies need — especially in Europe — is enemies in the news business).
I believe we have no choice but to distribute what we do as widely as we can. How can we still presume to force people to come to our sites when our content can travel to them? The good news is that with Instant Articles and AMP, content can travel with business model attached. The bad news is that in an era when first-party data is a prerequisite to building relationships with people, Facebook and Google know more about our users than we do. So we need to negotiate with them to get interest data about our users and usage data about our content. When I say this to publishers, I hear them protest that Facebook and Google would never give up data. But have we asked? And when I say this to the platforms, they say that publishers wouldn’t know what to do with the data if they had it. Are the platforms wrong? Today, they probably are.
And now come Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), further driving publishers to distribute their work. Both solve a problem of our own creation: We junked up and slowed down the web with ever more ads and applications on pages, forcing our users to download megabytes when the content and information they seek can be contained in kilobytes. We drove them to install the ad blockers that hurt our advertising businesses. (Ultimately, we in media need to fix not only the web page but also advertising itself, representing the interests of our users and setting new standards for quality.)