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Facebook’s Instant Articles to let publishers display ads more frequently

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Facebook, which had announced Instant Articles (IA) in April, is now allowing media companies to place one ad for every 350 words, as opposed to the previous one ad per 500 words, reports WSJ. For this, it is also launching a tool to automate the placement of ads to ensure maximum ‘ad load’ for every 350 words.

The company will also allow publishers to highlight and link to specific content hosted on their sites from ‘related articles’ (like branded or sponsored posts) at the bottom of Instant Articles’ templates. Facebook will also give publishers the ability to manually control the links to other articles, but will not be able to host sponsored content directly within IA on Facebook.

Along with this, it is removing a restriction where publishers couldn’t sell Facebook only campaigns, instead requiring to package IA ad space with other inventory across their websites. Now, publishers can pitch IA ads to marketers at a premium if they wish to do so. The social networking platform is making the changes by the end of this week, in order to help the publishers generate more revenue on the platform, which were apparently making it difficult for publishers to generate revenue.

The company added that Instant Articles were ranked the same as other content in a user’s newsfeed and that they could be prioritised over links to publishers’ sites. We’re not certain as to how a user can differentiate between IA and other articles from publishers on the platform and outside it, other than the load speeds. If Facebook is not giving IA priority over other articles in the newsfeed, it has the ability to ask publishers to ‘boost’ their IA posts by paying more. We’ve written to the company for further clarification and will update once we hear from them.

Facebook claims that 300 publishers have enrolled for its program globally, and that 100 publishers are using it daily to distribute content. When it launched, we’d reported that publishers could allow Facebook to sell ads where Facebook would keep 30% of the generated revenue. IA would make use of automated content syndication using standards like HTML and RSS, and the same content would also be accessible through the publishers’ websites.

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Indian publishers join the platform: Last month, five Indian publishers India Today, The Quint, Aaj Tak, Hindustan Times and the Indian Express signed up for the IA platform. Among these, the India Today group, which owns India Today and Aaj Tak, was also a part of Facebook’s Internet.org service, the last time Facebook released its list of partners.

Unnamed publishers added: In September, Facebook added a dozen new publishers to its Instant Articles platform, although the company refrained from naming them. The platform also added new feature to help publishers publish their full catalog of articles on Instant Articles everyday. In May this year, IA launched with news from The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News and German news publishers Spiegel and Bild.

Also read: WSJ: Facebook Mulls Ad Changes for Instant Articles After Publisher Pushback

Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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