Six months after the launch of its Instant Articles feature in US and western Europe, social media giant Facebook has finally made the unique tool available in India. Facebook has partnered with five of the leading publishers in the country to unveil the feature, which was only accessible by the iOS users earlier, for the Android-frenzy Indian market.
India Today, The Quint, Aaj Tak, Hindustan Times and The Indian Express are Facebook's Instant Articles partners in India.
What is Instant Articles?
Instant Articles is a tool for news publishers to distribute fast, interactive articles to their readers using the Facebook app. Content publishers can collaborate with Facebook and the publishers get to choose the articles or content they want on the app.
As Contently.com explains, "It feels like a cross between Christmas and a funeral in the media world. Christmas because everyone gets to write a navel-gazing hot take on what this means for the future of the fourth estate; a funeral because many, including some New York Times newsroom vets, are declaring this the time of death for media as we know it."
How it works
Users of the Facebook mobile app can view the entire article, published using Instant Articles, without leaving the app. As an added benefit, the formatting of the article will be similar to the one on the publisher's website.
Instant Articles can be loaded using the same tool used to load photos and videos on Facebook's app. Facebook pre-loads articles to facilitate instant access for readers. The days of waiting to read an article shared on Facebook, as it slowly opens in a new tab, are now a thing of the past. The feature does not require a web browser, which takes over 8 seconds on an average to load a page. Facebook claims that Instant Articles load "as much as 10 times faster than standard mobile web articles."
Publishers can control their ads, track readership in real-time - much like Google Analytics - and even customise "the presentation of articles to match their brand."
How it benefits publishers
News publishers strive to disseminate content as fast, and as far, as possible. This involves minimising the gap between content creation and consumption. And this is what Facebook Instant Articles aims to do. The auto-play video and rapid content loading features generates high consumption and sharing.
Instant Articles do not require distinct posting. As Facebook says, "Each Instant Article is associated with a link, so when a friend or page shares a link in News Feed, readers see the Instant Article version if it is available."
Facebook's Instant Article media partners
The social media giant has partnered with global publications The New York Times, National Geographic, Buzzfeed, The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, BBC News, NBC News, The Atlantic, Bild, Spiegel Online, MTV, Slate, DailyMail.com, The Huffington Post, The Dodo, .Mic, Vox Media and The Washington Post.
Facebook anticipates that this will increase the time spent on the website, instead of moving to other news websites while surfing the net. Publishers using this service will be entitled to keep the entire ad revenue, sold via news websites on Facebook.