The much rumored publishing platform by Facebook is finally here. Billed as Instant Articles, the new product lets publishers host their content directly on Facebook, and in return gather data as well as revenue share. The idea here is to cut down the time taken for opening of the article on publishers’ own websites after the user clicks on link on Facebook.
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.
Facebook has partnered with The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, and six other outlets whose article will show up as part of Instant Articles globally on the iPhone App (android version is incoming). In addition to making the articles load super fast, Instant Articles will provide a suite of interactive features that allow publishers to bring their stories to life in new ways. This includes zoom in and exploring of high resolution photos, watching auto-playing videos, interactive maps, audio captions and many more.
Of course, publishers will lose control by natively hosting there content on Facebook, but the company hopes it can lure publishers by offering detailed analytics as well as revenue share. Publishers will be able to monetize the articles by selling ads directly or choose to use Facebook’s Audience Network to monetize unsold inventory. As per some latest reports, Facebook is fast taking on Google in terms of ad traffic, and this is another attempt in that direction.
It seems that Facebook is pre-loading the articles in the background as you approach it in your news feed, and is able to show you the top of the story as soon as you tap. Users these days usually resort to text-only ‘stripped’ version of web pages in order to avoid the delay in loading of store. So it’s a surprise that Facebook is trying to achieve greater interactivity without sacrificing on the page load speed.
As you’d expect, the stories under Instant Articles will have the logo of the publisher on top along with a “follow” button that you can click to subscribe to their Facebook page and get more stories. In addition, publishers will also be 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.
Currently, the program is open for a handful handpicked publishers, and Facebook says that it will add more publishers in the coming days. But any plans to make it an open platform for anyone to apply? Not really. But we never know how this will shape up in the near future.