Michael Reckhow, Product Manager of Facebook, said, “Today we’re excited to introduce Instant Articles, a fast and interactive experience for reading articles in News Feed.”
Instant Articles are fast in loading almost ten times faster than standard mobile web articles, so readers can just take a glance and go ahead if they want to read. “So you get to the stories you want to read instantly,” said Reckhow.
Otherwise, reports in the Facebook app take about eight seconds to load, by far the slowest single content type on Facebook. Using the same technology that loads photos and videos quickly in Facebook mobile app, Instant Articles is faster and also comes with new features like tilt-to-pan photos, auto-play video, embedded audio captions, and interactive maps, said Facebook on its official blog post.
The feature will “let you explore the story in beautiful new ways,” assures Facebook. “Instant Articles is a tool for publishers to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook and was designed to give them control over their stories, brand experience and monetization opportunities.”
While the new feature will affect and impact the readership of established news agencies and top newspapers, the new feature should come as a great relief for those in the second rung of the layer providing specific and tailor-made news in the Instant Articles, like the National Geographic et al.
The long-anticipated move by Facebook has triggered hot debate among the news editors and business honchos some of them arguing that it can help struggling media groups, while others disputed it saying news organizations will lose control over their content with Facebook’s platform Instant Articles.
Zoom in to explore high-resolution photos and watch auto-play videos come alive as you scroll through stories, besides exploring interactive maps, listening to audio captions, and even liking and commenting on individual parts of an article in-line.
Facebook has designed Instant Articles to give publishers control over their stories, sell brand and benefit from monetization as publishers can sell ads in their articles and keep the revenue, or they can choose to use Facebook’s Audience Network to monetize unsold inventory. Publishers can track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools.
“Fundamentally, this is a tool that enables publishers to provide a better experience for their readers on Facebook” said Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox. “Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.”
Facebook is currently with nine global news providers for Instant Articles: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.
Mark Thompson, 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.”
“It is great to see Facebook trialing new ways for quality journalism to flourish on mobile,” said Tony Danker, International Director, Guardian News & Media. “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 is launching on Facebook for iPhone with stories published by The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, NBC and The Atlantic. “We will continue developing Instant Articles with our partners over the coming months and will listen to feedback from readers to help us improve the experience,” said the company in its statement.