Facebook plans to speed up the gradual introduction of its fast-loading Instant Articles format. On Wednesday, the company informed publishers that starting Apr. 12, it will enable all of them to create articles using the format.
Facebook committed to publishers
Publishers make money from ad sales inside the stories. There are two ways in which this can be done. They can either do it on their own or accept Facebook’s services for handling them in exchange for a 30% cut.
Last year, some publishers openly expressed their concern that Facebook would eventually seek to take a cut of all the revenue is generated from Instant Articles. In response, the social networking giant said if it does anything of the sort, it would go against its goal of making as many articles “instant” as possible. The larger the number of Instant Articles, the better the News Feeds will be.
“The bottom line is that if this doesn’t work for publishers, it doesn’t work — and we know that,” Instant Articles Product Manager Josh Roberts says. “We’re committed to being a good partner here.”
A lucrative proposition
Roberts said the initial response to Instant articles has been positive, and it has been noticed that users are more likely to click and share articles that use the format. This means such articles stand higher chances of showing up earlier in News Feeds, thus driving more traffic to publishers’ sites.
Facebook’s latest move coincides with the upcoming F8 developer conference and is expected to put more pressure on publishers to offer stories in the format or lose an advantage to their peers. The format strips out most of the code and pre-fetch stories when a user approaches them in the News Feed, thus making loading articles inside the Facebook app quicker than those on traditional links.
“Our goal is to make this work whether you’re BuzzFeed and the New York Times or you’re a local newspaper or a small blog,” said Roberts.
At the same time, the ad business the social networking giant has built inside the News Feed is hugely lucrative. Last year when Facebook introduced the format, it triggered an arms race among the big tech platforms with Google and Apple introducing fast-loading formats of their own. There were a handful of publishers at the time of the launch of Instant Articles, but now hundreds more have joined.