Facebook Articles Gone Instant
Catering to a world gone mobile, Facebook unveiled Instant Articles last week. With goals to change the mobile app article sharing and reading experience by making it both faster and more immersive, they currently have nine launch partners (The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.). One can’t help but wonder - will this swim or sink like Facebook Paper did last year?
Whatever the case, there do seem to be some benefits for the user. With article loading time sped up by several seconds (apparently this makes a big difference!), and interactive features like seamless video autoplay, photo zoom in and tilting capabilities (for both exploration and location pinpointing), animated maps, audio captioning and more, it does seem like a cool new experience in its infancy.
But how does the publisher benefit? Unlike Paper, publishers have the opportunity to advertise. They can either sell their own ads themselves and keep 100% of generated revenue, or, alternatively, have Facebook sell their ads for them via its Audience Network product and lose 30% of that revenue. (Source: all Street Journal article)
However, despite the fact that Facebook will be sharing analytics, and using Instant Articles may mean increased traffic for participating publishers, users will never actually be leaving the Facebook platform, i.e. they won’t be visiting the publisher’s actual site. As Hubspot put it, “Facebook Instant Articles make the publisher of the content less relevant.” (Source: Hubspot article)
So ultimately, is this better for the publisher? Or just Facebook. Only time will tell, as Instant Articles begins to gain exposure and grow. For now, the current launch partners haven’t yet published all of their articles to Instant Articles -- a seemingly smart move. New York Times, for example is cautious and experimenting with the new feature. Their CEO Mark Thompson summarized it nicely when he said, "You do it in a judicious way, and you learn as you go." (Source: Bloomberg article)
To Instant Articles or not? Decide for yourself and check out Facebook’s nice video here to find out more. http://instantarticles.fb.com/