Facebook delivers new ways for publishers make money (and get readers) from Instant Articles

Facebook is trying to sweeten the deal for Instant Articles publishers, who have been challenged in making money so far on the social network.

At today’s F8 developers conference, one of Facebook’s main areas of focus was monetization for all the content makers, who have been investing resources to create for Facebook but have yet to strike it rich there.

Instant Articles have allowed publishers to post fast-loading multimedia posts, but keep users from visiting their actual websites. To make up for any lost traffic, Facebook introduced ads into Instant Articles, and today it officially released an even more robust slate of ad formats.

“We want to support the business model of publishers no matter what that business model is,” said Will Cathcart, Facebook’s vp of product management, during a panel with publishers at F8 in San Francisco.

Facebook showed off the expected new video ads, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which can go right into Instant Articles and increase revenue for publishers because they command higher rates. Facebook also discussed its new branded content policies, which allow publishers to create posts paid for by sponsors, which could potentially monetize every post.

If publishers can’t make big bucks from Instant Article ad sales, however, Cathcart did show off call-to-action buttons that they can use in the posts to help convert readers into subscribers — paying or otherwise.

“We are testing a feature that actually helps take people down the subscription funnel,” Cathcart said.

Instant Articles were open to all publishers as of today. Facebook said the format leads to 20 percent more clicks on articles, and a 70 percent lower abandonment rate, because they load fast.

Mic, the youth-focused news site, was among the publishers on stage with Facebook during an F8 panel. All of Mic’s posts to Facebook are in Instant Article format, according to chief strategy officer Cory Haik.

“As Facebook unlocks new ad formats we are experimenting with those very quickly, and the brands that advertise with us on Instant Articles are very pleased,” Haik said in a phone interview ahead of her panel.

Once Instant Articles are cracked for revenue, the next step is to figure out live video and Messenger, and any other new platforms Facebook pushes publishers to join.


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