Facebook’s reputation as a hub for news and content in general has been on the rise for years, but that status was taken up a notch this morning following the announcement of a significant publisher partnership.
From this week, nine web publishers including BBC, the New York Times and National Geographic will be able to publish stories directly through the social network via a feature called Instant Articles.
‘Speed’ is the key phrase here, as Facebook will be placing much emphasis on making sure the content can be scanned easily. Reports suggest the loading experience offered by instantly published articles will be 10 times faster than the current system, which allows for a maximum of eight seconds.
Having these stories published directly on the news feed will also eradicate users having to go through each outlet’s page in order to find a story.
In a chat with the BBC, Facebook’s chief producer officer Chris Cox confirmed that the “most important thing here is speed”, while learnings from its mobile audience had pointed to a need for “immediacy”.
News just in
Today’s update marks a huge step for Facebook as a content platform, but also for the publishers signing up. With newspaper sales dropping, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming many people’s go-to source for news and online content.
A feature such as ‘Instant Articles’ represents another step forward in publishers realising the power of social media for content promotion, and looking to work with the networks themselves to increase their own audiences.
Not only this, with its expansive user data, Facebook could serve tailored stories up in the same way it would serve sponsored posts.
As well as BBC and the New York Times and National Geographic, the full list of publishers also makes room for the Guardian, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, Bild and Spiegel.
It is not known how or whether this list will be expanded.
In terms of the tricky debates around ad sales, the network says any publisher using Instant Articles to post directly on the site will take all of the revenue from ads they sell around the content.
If the ads are sold via Facebook products, it has been agreed that the network will take a 30% cut.
However, analysts have expressed worry over the amount of extra user data Facebook could gain by linking up with some of the biggest names in online publishing.
There are also concerns over the network getting closer to dominating content consumption, as fast loading times could make it even more appealing for users to head straight to Facebook for their daily bulletins.