Facebook Looks Set To Roll Out “Instant Articles”
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Facebook wants to be “the best personalized newspaper in the world”. Facebook aims to be a place where users can see the stories most interesting to them such as birthdays, parties, gossip and news stories.
Facebook referrals for news article publishers are hugely important with 22% of social referrals coming from Facebook. For many users Facebook is a place to find the news articles which are most interesting and relevant to them. Facebook wants to improve user experience by hosting news articles directly on the site. This will reduce load time and prevent people from leaving the site, with external content often taking up to 8 seconds to load on some devices.
Facebook has been in talks with several major publishers including Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and The New York Times for months to reach a deal to allow content to be hosted on the site. The deal could include a revenue sharing scheme where publishers keep 100% of ad revenue on instant article ads they sell and 70% on ads Facebook sell. In return Facebook hopes to improve user experience and keep users on site for longer. Normal advertisements which publishers place next to their stories would be removed, and replaced with a single ad in a custom format for each article.
To further add to this it has been reported this week that Facebook is testing a new in-app search feature which allows users to add links to status updates. The “add a link” option sits next to the buttons to add photos, locations, and feelings. The feature allows users to search for a keyword and Facebook will suggest related news articles to post.
Facebook has been looking to expand its product beyond just a social media platform for some time with projects such as Internet.org, which subsidises web access in developing countries.
Instant Articles could be another step towards expanding the Facebook product. Some publishers may be cautious about this move although eventually publishers might have to publish their content on Facebook directly or face losing traffic and ad revenue. It will be interesting for advertisers to see how widely the new feature is adopted once rolled out and the implication this has for publishers.