Facebook has announced that its Instant Articles will be made accessible to all publishers starting April 12. The service was launched in May 2015 and initially involved a handful of publishers.
That is set to change now that any publisher with a website of their own and a Facebook page will be able to host their articles right at Facebook itself. This marks a significant departure over the earlier practice of posting only links to the articles on their Facebook page while the article is remained hosted on the publisher’s website.
The above arrangement made for a win-win situation for both Facebook and publishers. Having the entire article directly at Facebook itself ensured those loaded very quickly on user’s mobiles. The social media company earlier estimated an article often took around eight seconds to load on user’s mobiles if the publisher only posted the article links on the Facebook page.
The long waiting time which could extend further when accessed via unreliable or slow network connections was not only frustrating for the user; this also made them opt for other sites leading to low retention times for Facebook. Now that the articles are available faster, users will also tend to spend more time at Facebook, which translates to better ad revenue for the latter.
For publishers, having the article at Facebook also ensures they have a greater share of the ad revenue than was possible when the articles remained hosted on standalone websites. Also of course Instant Articles benefits from Facebook’s huge user base already present that publishers can tap into.
For publishers, hosting the articles on Facebook is also beneficial in that they can tap into a growing segment of internet users who spend more time online via their mobiles than anything else. With Facebook already popular among mobile users, publishers have a huge market to reach out to than was otherwise possible.
With Instant Articles, publishers also have the option to keep a tab on how their articles perform via Facebook’s analytical tools or via those from third party sources.
However, some publishers are also weighing in the option of getting reliant entirely on Facebook with their articles. As such, any future change of policy on the part of Facebook once it has garnered the support of enough publishers could prove to be detrimental to the latter’s prospects.
The above notwithstanding, some publishers like Washington Post and Mic have migrated almost entirely to Instant Articles. Others like the New York Times are adopting a more cautious approach and have posted only some of their articles to the Facebook program.
The above also fulfils one of Facebook’s goals of offering varied content comprising of videos, photos, news stories or articles to its users making their stay at the site really worthwhile.