Facebook Announces Instant Articles Program
by Guest Blogger, Jennifer Everett
On April 12th during Facebook’s F8 conference, they will open the Instant Articles program to all publishers. That’s right – any size and anywhere in the world. Up to this point, Facebook has been working with a few hundred publishers around the world in order to build an incredibly fast and immersive reading experience for people on Facebook. Some of the early users are BuzzFeed, National Geographic and the New York Times. Once Facebook opens up Instant Articles to everyone, they are hoping to grow not only as a leading source of web referral traffic, but also as a first-party home to content itself.
What does Instant Articles do?
It solves the problem of slow loading times on the mobile web. This is a huge problem for publishers, especially ones with audiences where low connectivity is an issue. So, Facebook set out to make it fast and easy for all publishers to reach their audiences on Facebook.
This makes sense for Facebook because media organizations and journalists are an integral part of their platform. With Instant Articles, publishers have full control over the display of their stories, can bring their own direct-sold ads and keep 100% of the revenue. One more thing, they can track data on the ads served through their existing ad measurement systems or they can monetize their content through the Facebook Audience Network. They can even use their existing web-analytics systems to track article traffic or use third-party providers.
How Does It Work?
An Instant Article is a HTML5 document that uses standardized markup language (similar to XML). It can be applied automatically to enable automated publication of an entire content feed at scale or it can be applied manually to create bespoke stories that take full advantage of the Instant Article capabilities.
It is very convenient for publishers because they have the freedom to use the tools they already use while having access to all of the multimedia tools Facebook provides too. It is clear that Facebook’s goal is to connect people to the stories, posts, videos and photos that matter. Now, whether we are in the doctor’s office or sitting waiting for our plane, we won’t have to wait a full minute to read a single news article or blog post from your favorite thought leader.
Do They Get Prioritized Ranking in the News Feed?
Instant Articles are ranked in the News Feed by the same exact criteria that Facebook uses for standard articles on the mobile web. News Feed stories are ranked by numerous factors including the amount of people that interact with them and how much time people spend reading them. That means that Instant Articles won’t impact your organic reach.
Are Analytics Included?
Instant Articles supports the comScore attribution so comScore is notified each time an article view happens on Facebook. However, publishers can also use their existing web-based analytics systems to track article traffic as well as use third-party providers such as Google Analytics or Omniture. Facebook is also in discussion with European attribution and measurement providers in order to have similar solutions for EMEA partners.
There will most likely be a lot of writers who are currently posting for free to Tumblr or Medium that will move to Facebook just to pick up the small amount of revenue that it might provide then. However, that could cause problems of thousands of pages being copied and pasted such as articles, lists and humor pieces.
If you want to find out more details on Instant Articles, check out Facebook’s video on it. Also, they ask that all interested publishers review their documentation and prepare for open availability in April.