Links to news stories is a longtime staple of most Facebook users’ News Feeds. Soon, though, those articles could start appearing on Facebook in their entirety. The social media giant is offering to let publishers keep all the revenue from certain ads if they’re willing to distribute content through Facebook, according to published reports.
Via a feature called "Instant Articles" Facebook users might start seeing full articles and videos from magazines, newspapers and online news sources directly in their social network accounts later this month. Facebook has hinted for a while that it wants its users to be able to read news articles without leaving the site, and Instant Articles would solve that problem.
Skipping the Links
Many publishers post links to their content on Facebook, providing them with a crucial source of online traffic for their news sites. The average major Web publisher gets about 60 percent of its traffic from referrals from Facebook. Mobile users, though, have found that getting to those links via smartphones or other mobile devices can be frustrating and time-consuming. Having full news stories available on Facebook via Instant Articles could greatly speed the process.
To get publishers on board, Facebook could change its traditional revenue-sharing model. Under one scenario being discussed, publishers would keep all the revenue from ads they sell on Facebook-hosted news sites, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. If Facebook sells their ads, it would keep around 30 percent of the revenue. Also, publishers would not have to pay the social network for hosting their news.
For Facebook, any lost ad revenue would potentially be more than made up by the additional time users spend on the site instead of hopping over to linked news stories.
A 2014 survey by Pew Research Center found that almost half of respondents said they read news about government and politics on Facebook. Two years ago, Facebook started making changes to its design to better support news reading, optimizing its News Feed feature to simulate the look and feel of a newspaper. After providing publisher tools such as Stories to Share, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s aim was to make Facebook "the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world."
Are Publishers on Board?
Several issues remain, including how much control publishers will have over the dimensions and appearances of the ads they sell on Facebook. The social networking site would prefer that publishers use its own advertising technology products, including LiveRail and Atlas, instead of those offered by rivals such as Google.
However, some publishers would rather retain control over the entire user experience and hang on to data about their readers. Deals with Facebook's launch partners are being finalized, and Facebook is still negotiating with other publishers.