Facebook Speeds Up News Feeds with Instant Articles

FacebookFacebook heralds another innovation with faster news feeds and richer content appreciation. Last May 13, 2015, the big-time social media network rolled out Instant Articles, quick-loading articles from publishers that load on Facebook 10 times faster than before. Articles from publishers such as BuzzFeed and The New York Times are hosted on Facebook’s servers. Instant Articles also create a better user experience, eliminating the typical 8-second wait for articles to load.

Instant Articles works with 9 accredited publishers: the New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, NBC News, BBC News, The Guardian, The Atlantic, National Geographic and Germany’s Der Spiegel and Bild. Currently, only the iOS version is accessible but the Android version is forthcoming. Through Instant Articles, Facebook creates tools that help articles to stand out.

Once the user taps, the article loads instantly. The app manages this feat using the same technology Facebook uses for photos and videos to load quickly. Facebook begins pre-loading the story as users approach it on their News Feeds. Once tapped, the story shows on top.

Publications also get their logos on top of every story. This also comes with a follow button that users can click to subscribe to the publisher’s Facebook page. Publishers can also include the authors’ and photographers’ Facebook photos. The body of each article contains image galleries and videos. Publishers can use web view to embed objects.

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According to Facebook, Instant Articles give publishers control over the so-called brand experience, to help differentiate how the Instant Articles appear in the user’s news feed. Publishers will also have a little creative license to stand out against other competitors.

Facebook is also offering publishers 100% of ad revenue from Instant Articles. Each article will allow for a single 300 x 250 banner ad unit. The social site also offers analytics information that can be fed into Google Analytics or Adobe Omniture regarding performance.

The social media also built special interaction features for Instant Articles. Photos have audio captions for narrative stories and can also be geo-tagged. Users can like and comment on individual photos within stories.

Publishers are excited with this new publishing format from Facebook. “This is a very exciting experiment,” says Declan Moore, chief media officer for National Geographic, which has 35 million followers on Facebook. He acknowledged potential concerns in the future but claims that it is the organization’s best interest to work with the social media giant.