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July 19, 2017

Gain Reads and Revenue with Instant Articles

“We built Instant Articles to solve a specific problem—slow loading times on the mobile web created a problematic experience for people reading news on their phones. This is a problem that impacts publishers of all sizes, especially those with audiences where low connectivity is an issue…Facebook’s goal is to connect people to the stories, posts, videos or photos that matter most to them. Opening up Instant Articles will allow any publisher to tell great stories that load quickly, to people all over the world.”

Josh Roberts, product manager at Facebook

Something that marketers are continuing to uncover in their quest for conversions is that the old adage, “patience is a virtue,” is dead.

Today’s world is all about speed and instant gratification; the quicker the better.

Case and point: New research from Google displays that a whopping 53 percent of users will abandon a mobile page that doesn’t load within three seconds.

Three seconds.

And since mobile loading times and global Internet speeds have largely failed to bridge the gap thus far, there was clearly a need to be filled, as expressed by Facebook product manager Michael Reckhow:

“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.”

This is exactly why brands like Apple, Google, and Facebook have created platforms like Apple News, AMP, and Instant Articles; to ensure that content loads at light speed and users don’t have to wait an excruciating four seconds or more.

And to ensure that your Instant content gets the traction it needs, here are three tips for using Facebook’s Instant Articles effectively. Follow this advice for a major increase in reads and revenues.

Advance Your Ad Numbers

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would enable publishers to include an increased number of ads in their Instant Articles.

With this bolstered number, publishers can now include highly relevant ads every 250 words, instead of 350.

Moreover, publishers can also alter the placement of such ads with manual arrangement features and newfound abilities to include ad units at the bottom of such content in the related articles section.

Although these are still called ‘tests,’ Facebook has indicated that analysis shows “incremental increase” in revenue for publishers who implemented the changes.

This can be a fruitful alteration for any publisher currently using or about to implement Instant Articles.

Leverage New CTAs

One of the main complaints that publishers have with platforms like Instant Articles is that this type of content limits the communication that a brand can have with its own audience.

To help remedy these concerns, in April of this year, Facebook announced that it would begin to incorporate various calls-to-action for publishers to leverage.

Now, through a “. . . simple, self-serve creation flow,” publishers can deploy two CTA types:

  • Email Sign Up CTA – This is a newsletter sign-up module where users enter their email address. Customization options are available to alter messaging.
  • Page Like CTA – This prompts readers to ‘Like’ a publisher’s page to receive posts and updates from that source in their News Feeds.

This is a great way to build a brand’s Facebook audience and e-mail list.

In fact, two major publishers have already found this to be true.

In the blog post about the new feature, Slate’s Senior Product Manager, Chris Schieffer, commented on its newsletter list growth by saying:

“We currently use the Email call-to-action unit for Instant Articles to drive signups for our daily newsletter list. Over the past two months, the CTA has accounted for 41 percent of our total list growth. That is a meaningful number and we’re looking forward to partnering with Facebook to continue to grow the program from here.”

Huffington Post’s Head of Business Development, Mark Silverstein, echoed similar sentiments:

“Facebook Instant Articles is now one of our highest performing acquisition channels for driving e-mail newsletter subscribers. Over the last three months, IA CTA’s generated 29 percent of the HuffPost Morning E-mail signups. We also found that signups acquired via Instant Articles are just as likely to stick around as signups obtained from our own sites.”

While these new CTAs are proving to be fruitful for publishers, Facebook is still looking to include many more in the future.

Publish Across Platforms

Any brand that is truly trying to get its content read doesn’t publish it in a single location. Therefore, it can take quite a bit of effort and resource expenditure to design and publish materials across platforms like Instant Articles, AMP, and Apple News to ensure that all audiences are served.

Facebook, however, is attempting to remedy this situation by making Instant Articles compatible with Google and Apple’s comparable services, as well as other web publishing platforms.

As part of Facebook’s Instant Articles software development kit (SDK), the updated version will include an extension that allows publishers to create content in the various formats:

“The updated SDK transforms the markup publishers use to create Instant Articles to generate the code needed to build these other formats, removing what we’ve heard can be a resource-heavy step in publishing on multiple platforms. With an easy way to get from one markup format to another, publishers can then plug-and-play the markup in their content management systems or third party publishing tools.”

The ultimate goal of this update is to allow brands to design content a single time and easily publish it anywhere; not just on Facebook.

This means that you can more easily reach new or existing audiences to promote your brand while driving revenue and increasing your social presence with the aforementioned tools.

Content is a necessity for any brand online. And when you consider that social media consumes 30 percent of all time spent online, the importance of publishing pieces through these platforms becomes strikingly clear.

What are your thoughts on the new Instant Articles CTAs?


Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.