Facebook is cutting down on the eight-second average wait time for an article to load on mobile devices with a new feature called Instant Articles.
The feature is now live on Facebook's native iOS app. With Instant Articles, Facebook will host content directly on its servers, with nine publications currently opting in to the program: The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild. Publishers will be able to leverage a custom set of tools tailored to deliver engaging content, including autoplay videos, interactive maps, audio captions and in-line comments:
As more people get their news on mobile devices, we want to make the experience faster and richer on Facebook. 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 ten times faster than standard mobile web articles.
Publishers signing on to the program will be able to monetize their content:
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 monetize unsold inventory. Publishers will also have the ability to track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools.
Facebook is willing to forego revenue from Instant Articles as the feature has the potential to dramatically increase the social network's user engagement figures. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one-third of Americans get their news delivered from Facebook, making it a lucrative platform for publishers to host their content. The social network is — for the time-being — letting publishers retain the revenue they make from selling ads directly, but there is no saying if that will hold true if the feature takes off.