Back in October, Facebook announced that the instant articles visible from the News Feed would be available for iOS users and it would start being tested in Android as beta software. Thousands of articles are being published every day in that format, which allows those articles to load up to 10 times faster than they would on a regular browser. Facebook mentioned that this feature would make readers more likely to share these articles, and articles that get shared more often are the ones that rank higher in the News Feed, so publishers started to rewrite their articles to support this format. Facebook has a very large list of partners that publish in the instant format.
Today, Facebook has announced that instant articles for Android is quitting its beta stage and now the feature is going live for all Android users, so it’s reaching millions of people as Android is the most used operating system in the world. The instant articles can be recognized as they feature a lightning bolt icon in the top right corner and really there’s almost no delay from the moment a user taps the article and the moment the article gets read. The format supports audio captions and photo galleries, creating a richer reading experience, but a lot of advertising and analytics that run on the background are removed to improve load times.
There are currently over 350 publishers that take advantage of this format while providing lots of content from many regions. While there are some restrictions as how to use this format and it might hurt those publishers who are distinguished for the design of their sites, this format has been quite successful. To monetize their articles in this format, publishers can choose between selling ads within their articles or Facebook might sell some ads and give some money to publishers. This model is quite successful as mobile traffic is growing quite rapidly and Facebook has found another way to keep people using their app even more often. Google is already working on their version of instant articles and it will become available next year.