The publishing world is about to undergo another major shakeup, and this time the casualty in the race to own content isn’t print, but websites themselves. Facebook has released Instant Articles for all businesses, a native platform for publishing rich content directly to the social network.
Facebook has recognized that an ever-growing mobile consumer base demands faster, cleaner, easier to consume content that lives within applications, not browsers. Taking the leap to pull content directly into the native Facebook experience will have some wide-reaching effects on consumption, traffic, and the nature of the web in general. Here’s a few key thoughts to keep in mind.
Facebook will prefer and reward Instant Article publishers, delivering more organic impressions to those who opt in to the platform. The strategy reminds me of when business pages came to prominence. Businesses were rewarded for earning followers, which quickly became the marketing metric of success. In mid-2014 Facebook began to reduce organic reach, offering paid opportunities to extend content farther. Today, brands reach only a fraction of their fans without paid assistance. Expect the same thing with Instant Articles.
Ad Network Shakeup
As native advertising grows in popularity, Facebook has swept in to deliver targeted ads within Instant Articles. Publishers are able to control where ads display with simple lines of code, and may give control over what kinds of ads display to Facebook. All advertising content is automatically marked, “Sponsored” by Facebook. A simple, 10 minute signup process allows businesses to be paid for ads directly through Facebook, creating the potential for a feedback loop of arbitrage in which Facebook pays publishers less than it collects on clicks and impressions. There may be a downside to this approach: Companies that rely on lead generation through tracking company visitors to a website (or other data points) lose out.
Only Serious Publishers Need Apply
While Instant Articles is now open to all business pages, Facebook has implemented an approval process to weed out casual publishers. These requirements include:
- Create 50 Articles: You must have at least 50 articles in your library before submitting for review.
- Submit for Review: Our team will review your articles and provide feedback within 24-48 hours.
- Resubmit, If Needed: Resolve any feedback on design or policy violations.
Should I Activate Instant Articles?
If you’re a publisher with resources to spare on light coding, Instant Articles may be an important next step in monetizing traffic. In the short term, publishers should expect increased reach and engagement with well-formatted content, tapping into an ever-growing newsfeed consumer that is less interested in individual websites. The end result? Facebook may have just taken another step to dominate the mobile content ecosystem. Head over to Facebook to start the activation process.