Facebook Instant Articles – maybe hold off on a lightning decision

Facebook is moving to address publisher concerns about Instant Articles and how they integrate with the growing desire of titles to move towards subscription models.

An article written by digiday.com reported how The Guardian is ditching the Instant Articles format (along with Apple News) in favour of bringing readers to their site.

The article went on to discuss how a number of publishers had expressed concern over monetisation, reporting how the likes of the New York Times had also parted ways with the mobile format.

The article was tweeted out by The Splice Newsroom‘s Alan Soon and sparked an interesting three-way conversation on twitter with myself, Alan and Ken Teh, Facebook’s strategic partnerships man in the Asia Pacific region.

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For smaller publishers who sell their adverts direct I do think Instant Articles are a useful tool, fast for the mobile audience and the publisher keeps 100 per cent of the revenue (again if, and only if, they sell their own ads).

However as an increasing number of publishers move towards subscription models the industry is looking to Facebook to integrate IA much better with that new landscape.

Ken was fresh from WanIfra’s Publish Asia conference where he told delegates about a number of initiatives to help the media industry, including a compromise over advertising in IA with the limit going down from 350 words to 250 words per advert.

That doesn’t answer another concern for bigger publishers who want to integrate their own programmatic ad sales into the format, but for smaller to medium-sized publishers who sell direct it’s a step in the right direction

Personally I like the IA format, I understand the issues for the big publishers but for the thousands of titles in the industry for whom programmatic isn’t an issue (or an option) but subscription might be, I hope Ken is right, and does keep us posted.

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