Facebook has added a number of new ad formats to its mobile-based Instant Articles feature in a bid to reel in more publishers looking to monetise on the service. 

The tool is a handy content distribution service which encourages consumers to stay within its ‘walled garden’ thanks to speedier loading. 

A blog post by the social network’s product manager, Harshit Agarwal, claims publishers have made clear their intention to measure value on “traffic growth and per-page monetisation”. 

The new updates have been made in line with these two areas of focus, and provide further incentivisation for publishers away from the competition; Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, for example.  

Convenience at the core

For direct sellers, Instant Articles now supports ads with an aspect ratio of 2:3, allowing publishers to recycle creative from previous campaigns, saving money and facilitating consistent messaging across channels. Publishers using this format also take 100% of revenue. (Click to expand image.)

For publishers choosing to monetise with Facebook’s Audience Network, which gives access to the 4 million advertisers on its books, video and carousel ad formats have been rolled out on the service across iOS and Android.

“These high-value native ad formats provide a more engaging experience for people reading Instant Articles, driving performance for advertisers and revenue for publishers,” says Agarwal. 

Ceding control? 

The updates to Instant Articles come amid “mixed feelings” around the service since its launch just six months ago. Adam Singolda, CEO of competitor Taboola – which ranks second worldwide behind Facebook in terms of audience reach on the web – called it a “great awareness vehicle”, but also made the claim that publishers gambled losing control of their audience. 

“On the other side, I think it’s also a risk for media companies because losing the relationship with your audience and no control over the experience that people have when they consume your content is a risk,” said Singolda. 

“I think that the future belongs to those that have a direct relationship with consumers. Otherwise it’s hope as a strategy.”

The Taboola chief suggested that media companies should explore Instant Articles without relying on it, seeking alternatives (read: Taboola) to find growth while building direct relationships with consumers.

However, as well as covering new revenue options, Agarwal’s statement on Wednesday also aimed to assure that Facebook’s offering from the beginning has been to “provide the best possible experience to readers”, and drive value for publishers through increased traffic and flexible monetisation. 

“Today’s announcement [October 12] is a direct result of collaboration with our partners and we’ll continue to evolve the program based on publisher feedback.”