Facebook’s Instant Articles are heading over to the Facebook Messenger App soon. The Instant Articles feature has proved exceedingly popular on the social network with more and more publishers signing up to get it. Articles with the feature reportedly get 20% more clicks, 30% more shares and were 70% less likely to be abandoned due to slow loading.
Facebook Messenger has over 900 million users so it makes sense to put this feature there. People tend to use both apps in unison on their cell phones. The feature has already made its way to Android devices with an iOS update coming soon in the following weeks in contrast to the feature first being introduced to iOS users when it came to Facebook.
Instant Articles are Facebook’s answer to Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), launched last October. Google came up with this feature to make webpages more lightweight and a lot of publishers have benefitted from it. It first rolled out in May of last year with Support from NBC, National Geographic, Buzzfeed, the New York Times, Bild, BBC News, the Guardian, Spiegel and the Atlantic. Instant Articles allows pages to be loaded in advanced inside the Facebook app and be displayed natively and more beautifully than on a browser because they are converted in to an “HTML5 document optimized for fast mobile performance”. The articles appear up to ten times faster than on the built in browser. Not all publishers have it though, only those articles with a lightning shape on the top right hand corner. In the F8 conference in April, Facebook broadened its access so that more publishers could take advantage of it.
Instant Articles also supports autoplay video as you scroll through an article and zooming on photos if you tilt your phone or tap once on the photo. It also supports interactive maps, audio captions and the ability to comment and like on different parts of the article.
The feature is also great use to people who are looking to save on data. You can easily choose to open the articles with the lightning bolt without worrying about using up too much data.
The tricky part is how much do publishers get out of all this. It’s true that they can’t get any advertising revenue from this stemming from the ads on their own websites but they can have a say on the ads that are displayed on the Instant Articles. And of course Facebook shares the advertising revenue with them. Also, the click through rate for native ads has risen about 137 percent in the first quarter of 2016 and this is only set to increase with Instant Articles getting more popular. But this is technically better for publishers in the long run since users’ referral traffic to articles was shown to be down 32% in January 2015. Up til December of last year, around 350 publications had signed up for Instant Articles.
Facebook: The News Channel
Facebook has also made deals with celebrities and News channels to create content specially for Facebook. These include comedian Kevin Hart and Chef Gordon Ramsay as well as Buzzfeed and the New York Times. Coupled with Instant Articles, this will only reinforce Facebook’s standing as a news source.