Must say, Facebook has a knack of making everything look good. While I like many others was quite excited about Instant Articles and how they were soon going to be opened up for all websites and publishers, it is only recently that I realised the real purpose of the same.
First here’s what Facebook Instant Articles are – They are a faster way to allow a user to read an article on the platform of facebook by not making the user visit the publisher’s website and hosting it on the platform of facebook itself. Now here’s what they truly are – They are a way to keep users on the platform of Facebook, block any ads that the publisher might intend to show on their own website and replace those Ads (From Google Adsense or any other ad networks) with Facebook ads itself. Now though they share part of this revenue with the publisher, it simply cannot match up what a publisher might make on their own website instead.
Let us see this in action.
Here’s an article by Hindustan Times as seen in the newsfeed on the Facebook Mobile App
The ‘Power’ sign indicates if an article is an Instant Article.
On clicking the article, a Facebook Sponsored Post can be seen inserted in it.
While Facebook is said to have started sharing revenues with publishers (and even optimised ads to increase it), it can’t practically come close to what a Publisher earns otherwise.
Let us look at the same article as seen on a desktop to illustrate the same.
As can be seen, by showcasing the article as an Instant Article, Facebook has conveniently blocked all other forms of advertising on the article and replaced them with its own ads. Each publisher stands to effectively lose a lot of revenue as Instant articles roll out for every publisher. This is presently not a big concern for most and causes not much of a problem to businesses which blog to simply reach out, but those websites that rely heavily on facebook traffic and ad networks for their revenue may stand to lose a lot.