New Delhi: Instant Articles, where publishers post content directly on to Facebook instead of putting links, loads in less than half a second in India even with a slow mobile data connection, the social networking giant claimed.

“Instant Articles in India loads seven times faster on a 2G network as compared to a mobile web article in the US on the most recent Apple devices that takes an average of 8 seconds," Andy Mitchell, director of global media partnerships, Facebook told Mint over the phone.

That is a big achievement according to Mitchell, since faster load times translate to more clicks for publishers, who are seeing an increase of 20-40% in the number of clicks. “Since articles are loading in less than half a second, we are seeing that even people on slower connections click on 20-40% more Instant Articles than mobile web articles on average."

Instant Articles, which rolled out to a bunch of publishers in the US in May 2015, was officially opened to all publishers—of any type, any size, anywhere in the world—at Facebook’s F8 conference last month. Content loads faster because users do not have to leave the app by clicking on links. According to Mitchell, the reception to the program has been very favourable and over the last year, the company has been collaborating with publishers, gathering feedback to understand the kind of product they need and is trying to build that. “As a product, Instant Articles is a great example of doing the right work on the front end to achieve a positive outcome on the back end," says Mitchell.

Over the last few months, the company has tweaked its advertising policy to allow direct-sold ads which allows publishers to serve their ads directly into their Instant Articles feed and keep 100% of the revenue to allowing branded content so that publishers can use their Facebook audience to monetize any branded content they are creating with any advertiser. Both these measures have been welcomed by the publisher community, as they have facilitated greater monetization for publishers.

In India, Facebook is also tapping the huge vernacular language market and Mitchell said that the platform was ready to publish in any language. Currently, English, Hindi and Malayalam dominate the publishing landscape on Instant Articles with over 30 live publishers in India and a number of feeds are under review as the company looks to add more high volume of publishers in the coming months in multiple languages.

Talking about Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages that creates mobile optimized content and loads it instantly), Mitchell described it as a different product, going on to say that the larger industry has come to an agreement that mobile web content is not as accessible as it needs to be so a large number of companies and platforms are investing in mobile content and that validates Facebook’s product idea of creating fast, interactive articles to deliver a better mobile reading experience to people worldwide on Facebook.

Mitchell said that Instant Articles provided a significant boost for publishers looking to reach their audiences on Facebook. Overall, it has led to 20% more clicks: As people see more Instant Articles in their News Feed, they read 20% more Instant Articles than mobile web articles on average. Once they click, they’re over 70% less likely to abandon the article because they’re not stuck waiting for it to load and there are 30% more shares, amplifying the reach of publishers.

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