The Atlantic’s verdict on Facebook Instant Articles: ‘Jury’s still out’

The Atlantic is not merely dipping its toes in Facebook’s Instant Articles program. It was an early partner in it a year ago and configured its content-management system to automatically push all its new content directly to Facebook.

“Our strategy is to put 100 percent on Instant Articles,” Kim Lau, vp and gm at The Atlantic, said at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado. “We decided we were going to go all-in.”

Even so, The Atlantic is taking a wait-and-see approach before calling Instant Articles a smashing success despite The Atlantic pushing 98 percent of new content there. While some content, like its health fare, has gained traction, other stories — like its recent cover story on President Obama — have not.

“It’s all over the map,” Lau said.

On top of that, monetization is still a struggle. Facebook yesterday announced it would allow publishers to run video ads and with more ad impressions. But there’s still work to be done, Lau said.

“The thing we continue to talk about in our conversation with Facebook is around native. The question we get most often from advertisers is, ‘Can we extend our native advertising into Facebook?’ Right now, we cannot.”

For all of that, Lau remains optimistic but with a healthy dose of caution.

“I think the jury is still out,” she said. “We’re still looking for that big answer, but it might be more nuanced than that.”

See the full 20-minute session above.

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