On Wednesday, Facebook announced the launch of its new Instant Articles feature, which allows nine partnering media companies to publish articles directly to the Facebook platform. Instant Arrticles allows news organizations to reach Facebook users directly, but enables Facebook to maintain control over revenue, content, and layout. The long awaited service launched Wednesday morning in partnership with five American outlets and two European outlets including, National Geographic, NBC, BBC News, Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Bild, and Spiegel Online. Content from these news media outlets will now be globally available on the iPhone app as well.
Not surprisingly, publishers have expressed concerns about Facebook hoarding the data it collects, but Facebook has promised to share analytics with its new partners. Ads can appear inside Instant Articles, with publishers keeping 100% of revenue if they sell them and Facebook keeping the 30% if they sell the ads.
“Fundamentally, this is a tool that enables publishers to provide a better experience for their readers on Facebook” Facebook Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox said in a statement. “Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.”
Though Instant Articles won’t get any preferential treatment from Facebook’s news feed algorithm, if users engage with the content, it could show up more frequently in their feeds. Facebook says the articles will load up to ten times faster than they normally would to appease the impatient readers visiting from their iPhones to entice them to stay on the site rather than link to another site.
A recent Pew Research Center study found that 39 out of 50 new sites now have more mobile traffic than desktop traffic and some outlets are optimistic that this launch will help them tap into the mobile advertising market. Facebook’s Instant Article venture is still in its testing phase, but will be fully rolled out over the next few months.