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Google and Facebook's Publishing Efforts Look Poised to Print Money

It's been true for some time that Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) act as the primary gatekeepers for free/ad-supported online media. It's also a given that their apps claim an incredible share of total daily smartphone usage in much of the world, and that they collectively tower over the online ad world.

Between them, those three facts bode well for Google and Facebook's efforts to directly host and (in many cases) run ads against content from third-party web publishers. And though many publishers still have their misgivings, more and more are getting drawn into the vortex.

Last week, Adobe's (ADBE) analytics software arm reported that U.S. publishers got an estimated 7% of their total traffic from pages supporting Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework. It added that AMP traffic grew 405% from April to December.

AMP's traffic share may have gotten a fresh boost in January, when Google significantly increased the share of mobile Google News results involving AMP-based articles. Such articles began appearing on Google's main search results page in August.

AMP, launched by Google in late 2015, provides a set of guidelines that allow publishers to create mobile web pages that load much faster than standard pages. While publishers can technically host AMP pages on their own, only versions cached by Google on its own servers will appear in prioritized listings on Google Search and Google News. Publishers can sell ads on AMP pages via Google's DoubleClick Ad Exchange, as well as through third-party ad tech platforms.

Separately, a recent analysis from Columbia's Tow Center for Digital Journalism of the Facebook publishing habits of a dozen major publishers found that several of them -- Vox, BuzzFeed, Fox News, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post -- used Facebook's Instant Articles format to publish over three-fourths of their Facebook-shared material as of November, as compared with posts linking back to their sites. The New York Times and CNN used Instant Articles to share 49% and 28%, respectively, of their material, while other publishers...