Publishing on Facebook: The Latest on Instant Articles + Video

For magazines publishing on Facebook Instant Articles, a primer on how media companies are using it, how the social media giant is tweaking it, and how holdouts are responding; plus, getting serious about video

Publishing on Facebook Instant Articles isn’t quite as polarizing a prospect as initially thought, but it will still be a major decision for smaller magazines and niche or regional media companies when the service is opened up to all on April 12.

Will you lose your brand? Is there strategy involved? Can you still engage in audience development? Will your content get swallowed up? What about generating digital advertising revenue?

Digiday did some digging around for those weighing whether to start publishing on Facebook Instant Articles, on both sides of the divide. Let’s take a look at what they found out!

How the Biggest in the Business Are Publishing on Facebook Instant Articles

Deciding whether to take part in publishing on Facebook and wondering how top publishing companies are handling it? Well, Digiday has the dish, discussing the platform with the likes of The Washington Post, LittleThings, Mic, the Atlantic, and Slate in a recent article.

“The online politics and culture magazine publishes everything it can to Instant, which winds up being about 70 percent of its content. The exceptions are those that don’t fit with Facebook’s policy — syndicated articles, native ads, certain interactive article formats. Like all distributed platforms, Instant was a way to reach a large and loyal audience with a great experience, vice chairman Dan Check said. Like the Post, Slate also found that engagement with its articles increased over old Facebook — Facebook visits have increased 25 percent post Instant Articles launch, which he attributed in part to the new format,” Lucia Moses writes.

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“The Atlantic’s strategy is to put as much on Instant that it can, which translates to roughly 85 percent of the content. The strategy is based on the belief that the more audience reached, the greater the chance of converting casual readers into more regular (and of course, paying) readers. Anecdotal evidence points to a faster reading experience, but there are trade-offs, such as the ability to publish native ads, said Kimberly Lau, vp and digital GM.”

Publishing on Facebook Instant Articles Will Now Include Collecting Email Newsletter Signups

Now this is a bit of interesting good news, relayed by Digiday, if you’re seriously considering publishing on Facebook Instant Articles: You can unleash the power of our ACEM formula: Attract, Capture, Engage, and Monetize, because the social juggernaut will let you collect data for purposes like email newsletters and other products.

“The hope for many publishers is that the more they bump into the publisher’s articles on Facebook, the more likely they are to start coming directly to the publisher’s own site. There, publishers can not only keep all the ad revenue they generate but can sell the readers on subscriptions and newsletters and other products as well as collect data on their reading habits that can be used to improve the site experience,” Moses writes.

Consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? Download a copy of our 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study for FREE, to find out how you can improve your digital magazine rapport with subscribers.

“So the chance to directly engage with readers is a way to get people to sign up for a newsletter or another product. And for subscription-based publishers like the Times and the Post, the need to deepen their relationship with readers is all the more important because it’s only the most loyal who will subscribe. So the newsletter signups are an important avenue to get readers down the funnel.”

Axel Springer’s Avoiding Third-Party Platforms Like Facebook – but How?

But news like that doesn’t matter much to Axel Springer. The German publishing giant has built its own platform and is attracting additional publishers, Digiday reports.

“In September, Upday launched in beta and now has around 1,200 publishers on board — including The Economist, The Daily Telegraph, Le Figaro, Der Spiegel and Axel Springer publications — all eager to take a stand against platform offerings like Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. During this test period, Upday claims users were spending over two hours a month using the platform,” Lucinda Southern writes.

“Publishers will also get access to data from Upday, another boon that has meant no publisher has turned down Upday yet, according to Würtenberger. … Springer is currently siphoning off some revenues to a royalty pool before Upday has made any money itself. Politico reports Upday will share around 5 percent of the ad revenue it makes. Würtenberger said that publishers will get some revenue kick-back depending on the country’s specific law.”

New York Magazine Doubles Down on Video

Meanwhile, New York Magazine is devoting significant resources to getting video right, namely on Facebook, Digiday reports.

“The decision to focus on Facebook was driven by the fact that it’s quickly grown as a video platform — up to 500 million viewers per day. Tests ran last summer by New York Media with video series including ‘Vulture Remixes’ and a ‘Science of Us’ animated explainer series performed well on Facebook,” Sahil Patel writes.

“When these videos took off on Facebook, they helped triple and quadruple the reach of the Facebook pages where the video was published, according to Silberman. New York Media has 2.9 million Facebook followers across pages for New York magazine, Vulture, The Cut and Grub Street.”

Are you publishing on Facebook Instant Articles? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

To read more about publishing on Facebook and other industry news, visit Digiday.

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