Today humans are spending enough time on social networks and they are doing this via mobile. Facebook, which has 1.25 billion mobile monthly users (up 5%), and 798 million daily mobile users (up 7.1%) is well aware of it. In a move to increase the time spent on its network, Facebook has to have quality content and this is why it has been offering new features to publishers.
With today’s launch of Instant Articles, a new product for publishers to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook, the social network launches a new publishing format. Instant Articles debuts with rich-media stories from The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, and six other outlets that will be globally visible from Facebook’s iPhone app.
Facebook states, “People share a lot of articles on Facebook, particularly on our mobile app. To date, however, these stories take an average of eight seconds to load, by far the slowest single content type on Facebook. Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles.”
Slow mobile web article load times lead people to leave its app. By speeding up the reading experience it is making people stay on Facebook for connecting with friends, discovering content, and seeing ads. Moreover, the new launch is favoring publishers in more ways than one.
Instant Articles by no means are stripped-down textual dumps but come with additional features stuffed by Facebook. Publications get their logo on top of every story, along with a “follow” button that you can click to subscribe to their Facebook page and get more stories. Publishers can also opt to include authors’ and photographers’ Facebook photos at the top of the story; clicking takes you to their profiles and lets you to subscribe to their public posts. The body of the story can contain photos, image galleries, and videos, and publishers can use a web view to embed objects like tweets and interactive graphics.
Beyond just loading faster, Facebook will parse HTML and RSS to display articles with fonts, layouts, and formats that make Instant Articles feel like a publisher’s website. Facebook is also providing vivid media options like embedding zoomable photos, videos, and maps with audio captions, plus contextual ‘Ambient Videos’.
However, Instant Articles won’t receive preferential treatment from Facebook’s News Feed sorting algorithm just because of their format. But if users click, like, comment, and share Instant Articles more often than others, they may show up higher and more frequently in feed like any piece of popular content. A significant reason why other publishers won’t be interested in trying out the new hosted format.
Publishers can sell ads in their articles and keep the revenue, or they can choose to use Facebook’s Audience Network to monetize unsold inventory. Publishers will also have the ability to track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools. While Facebook has avoided the ad revenue break down, a previous report from Wall Street informed that publishers keeping 100% of revenue if they sell them, and Facebook keeps its standard 30% if it sells the ads.
Depending on the results of the initial test, Facebook hopes to add more publishers in the coming weeks with the goal of making it available to any outlet that shares stories on Facebook. An Android version is also forthcoming notes The Verge.
Earlier this year, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti boldly stated that the publishing company is no more worried where its content is sitting as long as it is on social media. It’s just not BuzzFeed, other publishing giants are taking distributed media on other platforms seriously. The 150-year-old New York Times is one of them which is showing confidence in Facebook.
Content consumption is taking a shift. The fastest growing media company, Facebook has made the move and publishers joining them is inevitable.