Facebook is offering publishers a new way to get in front of its billion-plus users through a new feature launching today called “Instant Articles.”
For consumers, the goal is to speed up the viewing experience. Already, tons of people are discovering stories on Facebook, from breaking news about the Nepal earthquake to heart-warming stories about photographers taking their dog on a cross-country road trip.
But Facebook says it takes an average of eight seconds for stories to load, making it “by far the slowest single content type on Facebook.”
That’s where Instant Articles come in handy. Facebook claims it will make reading articles ten times faster than standard mobile web articles, pretty much instant. The stories can also be more interactive, with high-resolution photos, auto-play videos, and interactive maps and captions.
Nine publishers are participating in today’s launch: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.
Why would publishers be willing to publish directly to Facebook’s iOS app, and not to their own sites?
The answer is pretty simple: The terms are really good.
Re/Code’s Peter Kafka reports that it is a “very publisher-friendly program.”
Among the perks of the program, publishers will be able to upload “sponsored posts,” use their own publishing tools, and bring their own ads to the platform and keep 100 percent of the revenue. If the publisher has unsold inventory, Facebook will sell it for them, and give publishers 70 percent of that revenue. Through a partnership with ComScore, publishers will get full credit for any traffic those stories generate on the Facebook app.
In a press release, Mark Thompson, the president and CEO of The New York Times Company said:
“The New York Times already has a significant and growing audience on Facebook. We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement. We have a long tradition of meeting readers where they are and that means being available not just on our own sites, but on the social platforms frequented by many current and potential Times users.”
The program will kick off slowly, so don’t expect to see a stories in your newsfeed right off the bat.