Image courtesy of Variety.
Sometime soon, Facebook plans to begin the roll out of it’s Instant Article feature on it’s mobile platform.
In May, together with the nine launch partners, Facebook published a number of test articles and the results so far are impressive. It could potentially revolutionize the ease with which content providers can reach consumers by making it not only easier to view content, but a more pleasant and well-rounded experience over all. Here’s how:
Instant Load Times
Rather than rely on it’s often clunky built-in browser that links back to the news outlets main page, Facebook will begin to host the content directly. According to their official launch page, they will be able to load content 10 times faster than standard mobile internet, which is to say, before you’re done with your swipe.
Articles filled with video and photo will provide a new type of article reading experience. Videos will autoplay, without the gaudy controls or timeline visible. The high-res photos will not only allow you to zoom in for a detailed look, but will actually shift as you tilt your phone, so you can see as much of the image as possible without your own hand blocking your vision. Some photos will even be accompanied by a narrator who can exposite the details of that specific moment in time, including quotes, interviews or other types of context typical of a television news segment.
The new Instant Articles are a very intuitive and fluid experience. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, then you can check out the samples right here. A simple tap of the article will load a mobile-optimized article right onto your screen. It’s simple to read and navigate. It isn’t crowded with extra links or extraneous information and it has a guided format geared toward an improved reader experience. No more waiting for the Facebook browser to sluggishly load, or freeze while it coordinates with the news site. You simply tap the headlines that catch your eye and you’re off and running.
Not a Web Replacement
If Facebook is not your primary source of the day’s happenings then, for the moment, you’re not in danger of losing your preferred experience. Facebook’s deal with the media outlets allows for them to republish the article again on their own site. This is not only good for the outlet itself, as it allows them to maximize traffic which keeps them in business and producing content for you to consume, but it also gives you multiple options.
You might start reading on your phone on the way to work and then switch seamlessly to the desktop version once you sit down at your desk. Thanks to the flow between various mobile and desktop operating systems and browser software, you might literally be able to hand off from one device to another.
While certainly innovative, it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel. For the moment, this feature will only be available within the mobile app, which means if you’re browsing from a desktop computer, you’ll still follow links through to the source webpage. However, with the amount of potential traffic such a new and simple user experience could generate per article, it wouldn’t be altogether surprising if it would up as a desktop feature in the near future.
While it has yet to see widespread release, anything that takes an already user-oriented experience and makes it easier and more enjoyable for the user while simultaneously improving the product itself is likely to do well within the market. As companies grow more creative in the ways they take advantage of this new multimedia news experience, we might start to discover that we are all better informed about the world than we used to be.
In recent weeks, Facebook announced an integration with Shopify which will allow merchants to sell products directly on Facebook. Shopify’s multiple innovations, including widgets such as a Bill of Lading generator for international businesses and the ability to add to cart directly from Facebook, is a perfect complement for Facebook’s clear intention to incorporate as much content as possible onto their platform.
From Instant Articles to Ecommerce integration, Facebook is moving away from sending traffic away to other sites/platforms, and working towards multiple integrations to keep users engaged on the platform, without ever having to leave. Recently they launched a new feature for Iphone where users can search for and share links within the app, mirroring Google and Snapchat. Add a Link, Instant Articles, and Ecommerce integration are key steps to improving Facebook’s user experience and, ultimately, ad revenue.