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Publishers on Facebook’s Instant Articles platform have a reason to smile – the social media giant now allows them to include more ads in the “Related Articles” section.
After being called out by ad-dependent publishers on the ad restrictions, Facebook began testing ad units below the Instant Article page in March 2017. Making the announcement on Thursday, Facebook said that the test is now open to all publishers within the network.
Without quoting numbers, Facebook said that the initial test – which involved showing relevant ads to readers on Instant Articles – saw an “incremental increase” in revenue for publishers.
By opening up the tests to all publishers, the company hopes to get more feedback to help it improve the experience.
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Native Ads? Not So Much
While the ads are similar to the normal photo-and-link ads that appear on the News Feed, they aren’t really “native ads,” as Facebook describes them.
Facebook requires a publisher to be part of Facebook’s Audience Network before they can feature an ad in this section. Once the publisher configures their Instant Articles to feature the ads, they are required to select “Banner” as the ad format.
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Recent Tweaks to Instant Articles
At the core, Instant Articles are supposed to make it easier for the reader by showing them only what they want to see. This means allowing them to focus on the text and any accompanying media. However, this hasn’t been going well with most publishers as they depend on the extras to actually make money.
As a result, Facebook has had to look for ways to address the publishers’ concerns while still maintaining the speed and relevance of Instant Articles.
In recent months, the company has allowed publishers to:
As of last month, publishers can create Google AMP and Apple News articles while they do Instant Articles, thanks to an SDK extension that the company rolled out to facilitate simultaneous creation of articles.
The Exodus from Instant Articles
Unfortunately, the recent tweaks haven’t prevented some high-profile publishers like Forbes, The New York Times, Hearst, and The Guardian from abandoning Instant Articles. Others like The WSJ, Bloomberg, CBS News, ESPN, Financial Times, VICE News and NPR have held out on the format, running minimal content on the platform.
However, despite these setbacks, Facebook maintains that the adoption of Instant Articles continues to grow.