Facebook launches Instant Articles with 9 publishing partners
Move will allow publishers' content to be directly posted to users' News Feeds
Facebook has partnered with nine news publishers for a new product it is calling Instant Articles, which will allow publishing partners to post news stories directly to users' News Feeds.
The aim of the service is to provide a smoother user experience for people wanting to read articles that have been shared on Facebook, particularly on mobile. Currently, users still need to click on external links, which take an average of eight seconds to load. With content published directly on Facebook, however, that time will be cut significantly.
"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," wrote Michael Reckhow, Facebook product manager, in a blog post announcing the launch of the new product.
"Instant Articles makes the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard mobile web articles."
The move has been widely expected for a number of weeks, with many publishing houses decrying Facebook's ambitions to keep news articles within the Facebook app itself. However, with yesterday's announcement, Facebook seems to have confirmed a number of big-name titles that are willing to provide Facebook their content.
Included in the launch of Instant Article are The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, and BBC News, among others. For many of these publishers, Facebook is the biggest source of clicks on their websites. And while moving their articles to the Facebook platform would deny these sites some clicks, the hope is that the improved user experience will play well with readers.
"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," said Mark Thompson, president and CEO of the New York Times Company.
"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."
Instant Articles is launching on Facebook for iPhone with a special set of stories published by The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, NBC and The Atlantic.