Facebook Spreads The Instant Articles Love

Faster load times are to the mobile age what faster broadband was to desktop computing: everything. That, quite simply, is why Facebook needs Instant Articles to succeed.

To make sure that happens, the social giant is testing a new plug-in for WordPress publishers.

“We’ve partnered with [WordPress parent] Automattic … to build a free plugin for Instant Articles, which simplifies the process of generating and publishing Instant Articles,” Chris Ackermann, an engineering partners at Facebook, notes in a new blog post.

The news follows Facebook’s decision to invite any and all publishers to participate in Instant Articles by April 12.

The expansion of the mobile news-perusing service bodes well for Facebook’s nearly 1 billion daily active mobile users.

For them, it means easier access to more news sources, and faster load times for everything from text to video. With Instant Articles, Facebook claims that mobile load times are 10 times faster than on the sites where the content comes from.



For publishers, Facebook is offering them 100% of the revenue from ads they run inside the service, while taking a reported 30% of revenue from ads that it sells through the Facebook Audience Network.

Less than a year old, the initiative appears to be thriving. Late last year, Instant Articles supported about 1,000 articles a day, from National Geographic to Time to USA Today.

Critics have tried to warn publishers about the dangers of getting into bed with Facebook. Last year, Michael Wolff addressed the Faustian implications of working with Facebook in the MIT Technology Review, while Ezra Klein argued that once media brands surrender distribution control to Facebook, they’ll never get it back.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s rivals are trying to develop legitimate alternatives to Instant Articles.

In partnership with Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, Google recently unveiled “Accelerated Mobile Pages.” The service promises publishers faster delivery of their content over mobile devices, and unlike Facebook’s offering -- and Apple News -- AMP is designed to work across multiple platforms, is open-sourced, and is available to any publisher who wants to participate.

Even more recently, Google added AMP-enabled pages in its mobile search results with support from none other than Automattic.

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