This week, the ride is taking a positive turn with Facebook’s announcement that it will allow publishers to place more ads in content delivered via Instant Articles.
Unveiled in a Facebook blog post from the social network’s Journalism Project, beginning this week, the new rules governing ad placements will allow publishers to place ads after every 250 words of editorial content in Instant Articles. That compares to the previous proportion of one ad for every 350 words.
Publishers can place the ads manually or using Facebook’s Automatic Ads Placement feature, which also allows placements after every 350 and 500 words.
In addition to allowing more ads, the blog post also hinted that new ad formats and placements are on their way, although these are still in the works. This could be a boon for publishers that have complained standardization for Instant Articles limited the custom ad experiences they can offer advertisers.
According to previous posts, Facebook’s Journalism Project is also working on story packages that allow publishers to entice readers with more than one article at a time and a subscription service integrating Facebook’s payment system, among other new features.
These offerings come as the social network continues to compete with rivals, including Google and Apple for access to publisher content. Last month, for example, Google announced it would let AMP users share source links from the publishers’ own Web sites and apps, rather than limiting them to Google’s own AMP links.
For its part, Facebook added video ads to Instant Articles last year; it began letting partner publishers run animated ads and “click to play” videos. Overall, Facebook offers publishers 100% of the revenue from ads they run inside the service directly and takes 30% of revenue from ads that it sells on their behalf through the Facebook Audience Network.Despite all these attempts to woo publishers, distribution partnerships remain a relatively small proportion of total revenues for a number of big publishers, per a Digital Content Next report published in February.
The report from DCN, the publishing industry trade organization previously known as the Online Publishers Association, found platform partnerships accounted for just 14% of total publisher revenues, based on a survey of 19 of its members, including big names like ESPN, The New York Times and Bloomberg.