It’s quite common for people to read a news article online and then share it with friends on Facebook. When those friends go to read the article using the Facebook app, it can take an infuriatingly long time — especially on a smartphone — for the article to load. Facebook yesterday launched Instant Articles, which the company is touting as both a way for readers to get interactive news articles in a flash and for content providers to create in-depth articles that people want to read and share.
Responding to complaints from publishers that it took to long for shared stories to load on smartphones, Facebook created a platform that brings text, photos, videos and other interactive media to readers quickly. When reading an Instant Article, Facebook app users on iPhone have access to auto-play videos, maps that can show precisely where a photo was taken or add information with a tap, and even audio captions providing in-depth background about a photo or story. From the reader’s standpoint, it’s now possible to like or comment on a portion of a larger story.
Publishers want new ways to monetize content as traditional media continues to wither, so Facebook lets them either sell ads in their own articles and keep all of the revenue or user Facebook’s expansive Audience Network to market unsold ad space. Partners involved in the launch of Instant Articles include National Geographic, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, German publishers Spiegel and Bild, NBC, The Atlantic, and The Guardian. Instant Articles launched on Facebook for iPhone, and Facebook will be analyzing usage and reader comments as it gears up to expand the news source.