Facebook hopes to make reading articles a much speedier experience with Instant Articles
Facebook has been rumoured to be in talks with several publications for them to post their content directly on Facebook. The reason for this is because Facebook say it takes on average around 8 seconds for an article to load fully outside of the social network, so to combat that unnecessary wait time Facebook want to use their technology to improve the users reading experience and host site’s content directly cutting out the middle man.
From today, Instant Articles, as they’re called, have come into effect with Facebook hosting content from the likes of BuzzFeed, National Geographic, ABC News, the BBC, and more, completely natively within the Facebook app itself. In addition to these faster loading times however comes a new platform for publishers that allow them to introduce interactive features to allow their stories to come to life more than a simple web page. Users can zoom and explore high-res photos by tilting their device, videos auto play whilst they scroll through stories, and they can interact with maps, listen to audio captions and much more.
Overall it seems like a much more pleasurable experience for the user as a whole, but what about the publisher? Before all of this, when the rumours were first circulating, there were worries that publishers would have to give up traffic and ad revenue, but it’s been revealed that with a single 300 x 250 banner ad unit, publishers can still monetise their content with Facebook taking 0 per cent of the revenue. The publisher will also be able to use analytics offered by Facebook to feed into Google Analytics or Adobe Omniture. Data will also be fed to ComScore too so publishers don’t loose out on traffic numbers.
For publishers outside of the program, Facebook has also said that it’s algorithm won’t favour the new format over traditional links.
Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox says simply:
“Fundamentally, this is a tool that enables publishers to provide a better experience for their readers on Facebook. Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.”
For Facebook this new initiative will close the gap that sees users leaving the Facebook app to further explore websites and eventually going elsewhere. Users remain on Facebook continuing to browse their newsfeed and unsurprisingly seeing more native Facebook ads. In addition to this, if Facebook’s Instant Articles become a success with users seeing websites as a second-best way to view content, well publishers will then be flocking to Facebook to have their content published on this platform.
Essentially, Facebook could change the way we read the news by offering a more all-together platform. This is big news.