Social media giant Facebook has taken the wraps off a plan aimed to bring more great content to its iOS app, according to a report from Re/code. Dubbed “Instant Articles,” the new feature will bring articles from the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, and NBC News to your mobile timeline. The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel, and Bild will be coming soon. For now, the Instant Articles are only available from within the iOS Facebook app.
Facebook’s mobile platform boasts 1.25 billion users, so most publishers are going to jump at the opportunity to get their content in front of that many pairs of eyeballs. The core terms of the program are very friendly to publishers, so Facebook is likely to see a great deal of interest from content producers. BuzzFeed president Greg Coleman pointed out that Facebook has truly taken the needs of the publisher to heart in developing the program.
Facebook really understood what would be important to us. So instead of acting like someone who would dictate, they came to us and asked us what would be great for BuzzFeed.
Facebook’s Instant Articles are designed to load instantly on the social media site’s iOS app. Publishers use their own tools to create the posts, and Facebook automatically converts those stories into a format that works on the iOS app. Content producers can take advantage of some cool bells and whistles, like the photo and video-panning feature from Facebook’s almost extinct Paper app.
Publishers get to keep 100 percent of the ad revenue they earn from their Instant Articles. For stories that don’t make it into Instant Articles, Facebook will sell the unsold inventory through its own ad network and give publishers 70 percent of that revenue. Instant Article publishers will get access to performance data on their stories, provided by Google Analytics and Adobe’s Omniture, and ComScore will give full credit for each post to the actual content producer.
If it all seems too good to be true, it very well might be. Facebook has such a proven track record of changing its mind and the terms and conditions for its services that such revision is almost considered standard operating procedure for the social media giant. Facebook is already so hugely important to many publishers that it has even surpassed Google as those sites’ chief referral source. Is it such a great idea to give Facebook even more power?
If Facebook is truly doing this to give users a better experience of reading stories on mobile phones, then publishers should have little to worry about. On the other hand, if Facebook is initiating this program out of a desire to gain more ownership over publishing, Instant Articles might not be such a hot idea.