Facebook Tinkers With Instant Articles Ads

Facebook is revamping its advertising offerings for Instant Articles, following complaints from publishers that certain restrictions were making it difficult to monetize their content at the same rates they do on their own Web sites.

According to unnamed sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, publishers like The New York Times and The Washington Post have pushed back against Facebook’s rules governing the type and number of ads they can place around their content.

Among other things, Facebook restricts them to one large banner ad (measuring 320 x 250 pixels) for every 500 words of content they publish. That compares to a typical distribution of three or four ads on WaPo’s Web site.

Facebook has also forbidden “rich media” ads, including animation or interactive features; that's a major limitation, as most marketers consider video and video-like ads superior to static display.

Facebook has justified these restrictions on the grounds of user experience, especially since Instant Articles is geared toward mobile devices with limited display space. However, in response to the publisher complaints ,the social network is experimenting with allowing more ads and new ad formats, including types that were previously off limits.

Separately, Facebook is wooing publishers and content providers with even more new products.

This week, Facebook introduced Notify, an app that allows users to subscriber to push notifications from publishing partners. The app launched with more than  70 major partners including Bloomberg, CNN, Fox Sports, Fandango and The Weather Channel. Notify also allows users to share notifications with their friends.

In addition to deepening its relationships with publishers, the launch of Notify is widely viewed as a move to outflank Twitter, which is seeking to boost engagement with users by leveraging its position as a source for breaking news.

The push includes the introduction of “Moments,” which is intended to make Twitter more accessible to casual users by compiling tweets about high profile, ongoing events, thus removing much of the confusing clutter that has hindered widespread adoption.

Twitter recently opened up its Moments feature to publishers, allowing them to sort, curate and arrange tweets to create their own Twitter-based content around news events and subjects.

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