Journo alert – Facebook unveils Instant Articles

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Facebook has launched Instant Articles, a new product for publishers to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook.

“As more people get their news on mobile devices, we want to make the experience faster and richer on Facebook,” says product manager Michael Reckhow.

“People share a lot of articles on Facebook, particularly on our mobile app. To date, however, these stories take an average of eight seconds to load – by far the slowest single content type on Facebook. Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as 10 times faster than standard mobile web articles.

Along with a faster experience, Instant Articles has introduced a suite of interactive features that allow publishers to bring their stories to life in new ways – you just zoom in and explore high-resolution photos by tilting your phone.

“Watch auto-play videos come alive as you scroll through stories,” says Reckhow. “Explore interactive maps, listen to audio captions, and even like and comment on individual parts of an article.

“We designed Instant Articles to give publishers control over their stories, brand experience and monetization opportunities. Publishers can sell ads in their articles and keep the revenue, or they can choose to use Facebook’s audience network to monetise unsold inventory. Publishers will also have the ability to track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools.”

Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox said: “Fundamentally, this is a tool that enables publishers to provide a better experience for their readers on Facebook. Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.”

Facebook is working with nine launch partners for Instant Articles: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC, Spiegel and Bild.

Mark Thompson, president and ceo of the New York Times, said: “The New York Times already has a significant and growing audience on Facebook. We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement. We have a long tradition of meeting readers where they are and that means being available not just on our own sites, but on the social platforms frequented by many current and potential Times users.”

Tony Danker, international director of Guardian News & Media, said: “It is great to see Facebook trialling new ways for quality journalism to flourish on mobile. The Guardian is keen to test how the new platform can provide an even more engaging experience for our readers. It is then vital that, over time, Instant Articles delivers recurring benefit for publishers, whose continued investment in original content underpins its success.”


Instant Articles launches with a special set of stories published by The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, NBC and The Atlantic. Facebook says it will continue developing Instant Articles with its partners over the coming months and listening to feedback from readers to help improve the experience.

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