Instant Articles are still in their infancy, and full details of the implications and impact for all parties involved – particularly advertisers – are still to be seen. As more publishers rollout content via this format, eyes will be on how consumers interact and brands respond to the possibilities.
Last month, Facebook rolled out Instant Articles to a clamor of opinions – ranging from a boon to marketers and publishers to the potential end of media as we know it.
As a reminder: Facebook Instant Articles are fast-loading, rich-media stories hosted and accessed directly from the Facebook Mobile Newsfeed.
Instant Article launched with 9 publisher partners, and several weeks later, the main thought on the minds of most was: so where exactly are these articles?
Facebook indicated the rollout of Instant Articles would be a gradual process, and now, nearly a month after the announcement, The New York Times said it would have a “full feed of about 30 Times stories a day” live later in June.
This comes hot off the heels of Apple’s launch of its own mobile newsreader, News, at its Worldwide Developer Conference – with an impressive roster of publishers, including the New York Times and others.
In the case of both Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles, publishers will be able to retain 100 percent of the ad revenue they fill themselves and 70 percent of revenue for inventory the platform sells. This monetization is likely a major selling point for publishers.
For marketers looking at this ad opportunity, Instant Articles offer some key potential benefits:
- Trusted and Native Ad Environment: Ads within Instant Articles offer an integrated and engaging way to reach consumers across of a set of premium publishers.
- Connection to Mobile Consumers: The highly responsive, mobile design of Instant Articles caters to today’s mobile-first audience with content that is said to load 10x faster than standard linked articles.
- New, complementary reach: For publishers who decide to fill their ad inventory via the Facebook Audience Network, this could mean a seamless entry point for brands already engaged in this channel to test a new format and garner new reach.
Early numbers reveal Instant Articles are grabbing higher engagement rates – an average of 4.3x more than link posts. If this is an indication of audience engagement once in the article, it could bode well for advertisers. But don’t let the number deceive you, this was a small sample of initial posts.
There are a few things brands that are interested in exploring this opportunity should keep in mind. For example, some initial Instant Article ad guidelines have already been announced such as:
- There will be a maximum of four ads per article.
- No ads will be placed “above the fold.”
Given the selective group of rollout partners, it doesn’t appear that Instant Article ads slots will provide scale initially, but as this initiative ramps and more partners come on board, there could increased spots with increased competition. Another realistic bet could have brands working with publishers to feature sponsored content stories within Instant Articles for a true native advertising experience.
The final point of consideration is the visibility of Instant Articles within the Newsfeed. A brand’s content can be at the mercy of EdgeRank as Facebook has taken measures to adjust it algorithm based on its users activities and preferences.
Facebook has said Instant Articles won’t be favored by the algorithm, but will that change if users gravitate toward them? The latest EdgeRank update is taking into account time spent on stories, so if audiences are highly engaged with this format, will that boost their occurrences and visibility within the Newsfeed?
Are you planning to explore Facebook Instant Articles?