This Wednesday (7/19/2017), Facebook announced that it would begin rolling out a new analytics tool created in partnership with Nielsen. This tool allows Facebook users who run business pages or fan pages to compare analytics between Instant Articles and links to outside mobile web page versions of the same article. But what exactly is an Instant Article, and why is this a good thing?
An Instant Article is Facebook’s gorgeous attempt at creating a simple and easy-to-read article within the native Facebook app. Content publishers can choose to create their articles for reading as an Instant Article, and any ad revenue from ads that are shown around the article goes directly to the publisher (or 70% if the ads are from Facebook’s own ad services). There were some significant downsides to Instant Articles, however. There was no incentive to follow certain publishers until recently (i.e. a Like or Subscribe button), and the traditional newsroom model was at risk due to Facebook’s aggressive algorithmic method of showing certain articles.
Now, Facebook is hoping to offer an even bigger incentive to publishers who use Instant Articles. The new tool allows publishers to create an Instant Article version of an outside, web-hosted article and compare how many clicks go to each. It also allows users to see how referrers send click to their articles, and how monetization of the two article types differs. In their published article, Facebook says that users read significantly more Instant Articles due to the in-app integration, and are therefore more likely to pay for access or other perks. With the company gearing up to test out a paid subscription paywall for some publishers this fall, incentivizing the process of writing and putting out some of these Instant Articles could change how some news sources operate on Facebook.