Facebook’s Instant Articles: threat and opportunity for travel?

Facebook’s Instant Articles: threat and opportunity for travel?

How often have you clicked on a link to an article on your Facebook feed only to sit for what seems like an eternity before something shows up?

According to Facebook, a web article clicked from the app on your phone takes an average of eight seconds to load and calls web articles “by far the slowest single content type on Facebook”.

The social network has now come up with an answer.

Meet Instant Articles, a way of reading articles from within Facebook itself up to ten times faster than clicking on an external link. The company is partnering with a number of publishers ot make their content available without leaving the network, including the BBC, Buzzfeed, The Guardian and the New York Times.

The technology does not just make articles load faster. It also enables tilt-to-pan photos, auto-play video, embedded audio captions, and interactive maps.

Within articles, users can also like and comment on individual parts in-line.

Publishers can run ads within their stories and keep all of the revenue they generate from them or they can allow Facebook to sell unsold ads on their behalf.

Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox said, “Fundamentally, this is a tool that enables publishers to provide a better experience for their readers on Facebook. Instant Articles lets them deliver fast, interactive articles while maintaining control of their content and business models.”

Tony Danker, international director, Guardian News & Media, said, “It is great to see Facebook trialling new ways for quality journalism to flourish on mobile. The Guardian is keen to test how the new platform can provide an even more engaging experience for our readers. It is then vital that, over time, Instant Articles delivers recurring benefit for publishers, whose continued investment in original content underpins its success.”

Publishers will not be required to use Instant Articles to have their content on Facebook but the company says it will reach more people.

“Facebook’s experience with other media formats, such as auto-play video, has been that more rapid content loading generates increased content consumption and sharing. We believe Instant Articles will help publishers grow their businesses on Facebook,” it says.

At the same time, the articles mean a drop in referral traffic to publisher wesbites, although Instant Articles will be trackable using comScore.

Instant Articles means there is another route for travel marketers to reach a highly engaged audience and leading publishers are likely to make their content more sticky than the typical content they might have on their own sites. All very positive news for travel companies whose products and services appear on the websites of these leading publishers.

Others will be concerned that it keeps those 1.2 billion users of Facebook safely within its walled garden for even longer.

  • Facebook boss Mack Zuckerberg recently held one of his regular Q&As. He was asked about the concern that some brands have that the content they post on their business pages is being seen by fewer and fewer people – ie. organic reach is decreasing. He said that more and more people are visiting company Facebook pages instead of mobile websites and that this is an opportunity brands should embrace. His full answer is in the video below.



Let us know in the comments how you think this can impact the travel industry, we want to hear your opinions.

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Mark Frary is co-founder of Travel Perspective, a social and digital consultancy working with travel companies and tourism organisations to create successful marketing campaigns He is an author and writer specialising in travel, social media and technology. He writes regularly for The Times and has written for many other publications including the Evening Standard, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Express, Food & Travel, ABTA magazine, the easyJet magazine and Teletext.  Mark also gives expert advice to leisure and business travel companies on their social media and communications strategies and is the co-founder of Social Travel Market, an annual conference on the use of social media in travel at World Travel Market. He is the author of seven books including The Origins of the Universe for Dummies and is currently working on a biography of the ski pioneer Erna Low. Mark lives in Ampthill in Bedfordshire, UK with his wife and three children. www.travelperspective.co.uk

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