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Do news publishers stand a chance of winning the content war?

Facebook is opening Instant Articles to any publisher of any size.

Apple is opening Apple News to any publisher of any size.

Google has rolled out Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for all publishers.

What do these three have in common? They all keep content consumers in their ecosystem and not in yours.

They also mean publishers are still playing defense in the battle to win the news game. Giving your content to these platforms is, in essence, like handing the football to the opposing team and trusting that they'll run it into your endzone.

Do you really trust that Google, Facebook and Apple are going to make sure you win the game?

What happens if you don't hand over your content?

I think there's little doubt it will hurt your Google rankings. Google has no qualms about penalizing publishers that don't follow its rules. It's one thing to tell publishers results will be downgraded if pages aren't optimized for mobile, but it's another to penalize those who don't let Google render their content.

To be fair, Google hasn't said they will ... yet. Similarly, Facebook hasn't said Instant Articles will alter its mysterious feed algorithm. But is there any doubt?

Apple News is a slightly different case; you're either going to push your content to that narrow audience or not. But it's worth noting that Apple is going to accept "native ads," which means paid content that will render exactly like news articles.

Publishers can't afford to stick their heads in the sand and isolate their content. But make sure you go in with your eyes wide open.

If you give up control of your content, you give up control. How or when it's rendered, the audience data, the type of advertising ... it will no longer be your call.

What brand image are you projecting if all your content is mashed in with thousands of others in the Facebook/Google/Apple sandbox?

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