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Facebook expands latest Instant Articles ad scheme in effort to help drive revenue for news publishers

By James Walker

Facebook has expanded a new initiative of running adverts at the bottom of its Instant Articles mobile platform to include all news publishers in an effort to help them drive ad revenue.

As part of its Facebook Journalism Project, launched in January, the web giant introduced the new advertising units, which sit within the related articles section of Instant Articles.

The aim is to catch readers looking for additional content once they reach the end of an article.

A spokesperson said: “Publishers have told us that ads in related articles are an important monetization driver on the mobile web. This test introduces a similarly placed native ad unit in Instant Articles that shows readers relevant and high quality ads from Facebook advertisers…

“Our goal with ads in Instant Articles is to drive revenue for publishers and performance for advertisers while maintaining a great reading experience for people.”

Only news publishers signed up to the Instant Articles mobile publishing platform can benefit from the new initiative.

The Instant Articles platform improves the loading speed of articles by opening them directly on Facebook, rather than through a publication’s website.

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A Facebook spokesperson told Press Gazette that news publishers receive 100 per cent of the revenue share on Instant Articles for ads sold on their websites, while they get a 70 per cent share from ads sold by Facebook.

Facebook estimates that Instant Articles delivers between 20 to 50 per cent more traffic to publishers’ stories in total when compared with mobile web browsers. 

It claims to pay out more than a million dollars a day to publishers through Instant Articles and has more than 10,000 publishers signed up to the platform worldwide.

The social network also claims publisher’s have seen their revenue per 1,000 page views from the Facebook Audience Network in Instant Articles increase by more than 50 per cent over the last six months.

Last month, the Independent’s digital chief told Press Gazette Instant Articles was an “important form of advertising sales”, but not all publishers have been so keen on the platform,

The Guardian dropped out of Instant Articles earlier this year, due to “woeful” financial returns. The paper said it could make more money from advertising on its own website, while also encouraging readers to join its membership scheme.

Signed up to Instant Articles are the likes of the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Mirror, Daily Mail, Sky News and The Sun.

Facebook’s efforts to increase revenue for news publishers comes as Press Gazette’s Duopoly campaign calls on Facebook and Google to give news publishers a fairer deal for using their content.

The Duopoly is reckoned to take more than half of UK online advertising. According to a report by analysts OC&C, their share of UK online advertising is set to rise to 71 per cent by 2020.

In a blog post, Facebook highlighted that they had investing in new features to help publishers, such as increased ad monetisation, flexible ad placements and the enabling of new types of Facebook adverts.

Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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