Guardian pulls out of Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News

The Guardian has pulled its content from Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News, marking a significant step back towards attracting readers to its own site rather than external aggregators.

It was one of the first UK newspapers to adopt both Facebook and Apples formats, launching with each platform in April and October 2015 respectively. In a statement issued to Digiday, however, a Guardian spokesperson said these were considered “extensive trials … to assess how they fit with our editorial and commercial objectives”.

“Having evaluated these trials, we have decided to stop publishing in those formats on both platforms,” reads the statement. “Our primary objective is to bring audiences to the trusted environment of the Guardian to support building deeper relationships with our readers, and growing membership and contributions to fund our world-class journalism.”

The Guardian is hardly the first publication to express displeasure with these platforms. Last November, Telegraph commercial product director Paul de la Nougerede voiced frustration at  “the monetisation challenge” presented by Instant Articles. And as far back as November 2015, little more than a month after Apple News launched, there were reports that publishers and advertisers were unhappy with the restrictions on advertising in Apple News.

Despite publishers fearing disintermediation, there seemed to be a consensus that was better to be on the platform than miss out, even if the resulting ad revenues were lower than on their sites and apps. And these platforms do bring in significant traffic – ABC figures released last week showed that The Evening Standard attracted 5.3m page views in Match, nearly a tenth of its total views.  

However, The Guardian rejecting the platforms may signal the beginning of a move in the other direction – only time will tell if other publishers follow suit.