LOS ANGELES — Calling it “a faster, more beautiful reading experience,” Facebook has launched its Instant Articles platform, which is poised to redefine today’s Internet.
Our experience of the Internet is rapidly changing, with a totally different audience, content options and technology base in 2015 than was the case in 1995. Today, mobile access dominates the desktop, robust interactivity and social media are the norm, and traditional web surfing has vastly declined in popularity.
It is a distinct trend that will further solidify, with Facebook’s evolutionary Instant Articles program — and a trend that remains ignored by a large and stagnating segment of the adult entertainment industry, which has been slow to respond to the profound changes in online demographics, affluence and access.
For a backdrop, consider the stats: According to Statista.com, nearly 800 million people now access the Internet exclusively through mobile devices, with countless more going online across multiple platforms. Google recently reported that mobile search has overtaken desktop search in several major markets — including Japan and the U.S., leading to its mobile friendliness imitative, and Facebook, closing in on one and a half billion users worldwide, reports that 1.25 billion of those users now arrive via a mobile device.
Internet marketers that are not providing a mobile-friendly social experience are missing the mark, and Facebook is not about to be left behind, noting that one major problem with the mobile web is the slow loading time of traditional web content and pages — such as news articles that contain rich media.
“People share a lot of articles on Facebook, particularly on our mobile app. To date, however, these stories take an average of eight seconds to load, by far the slowest single content type on Facebook,” explains Product Manager Michael Reckhow, who says that Facebook’s Instant Articles make the reading experience as much as ten times faster than standard web articles.
Speed is not the only benefit offered by Instant Articles, however, which also feature a groundbreaking level of visual richness and user interactivity, that Reckhow says allow publishers to bring their stories to life in new ways.
“Zoom in and explore high-resolution photos by tilting your phone. Watch auto-play videos come alive as you scroll through stories. Explore interactive maps, listen to audio captions, and even like and comment on individual parts of an article in-line,” Reckhow reports, adding that “We designed Instant Articles to give publishers control over their stories, brand experience and monetization opportunities.”
Those monetization opportunities are substantial, as publishers that sell their own ads within their articles receive 100 percent of the income — while those that use Facebook’s Audience Network to handle ad sales will receive a 70 percent share. Publishers can keep track of things via comScore and Google Analytics, among other tools.
Powerhouse publishers who see the value in investing in engaging, original content — such as Instant Articles’ launch partners The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild, have been quick to embrace the new platform, despite concerns that porting content to Facebook would cannibalize website visits. Since the agreement with Facebook does not demand exclusivity, not all of a publisher’s content need be distributed via Instant Articles.
In context of adult content marketing and publishing, this aspect is akin to a studio using a tube site’s content partner program to build its audience, while offsetting the cost of distribution by eliminating hosting and other infrastructure expenses, as well as the need to generate views by relying on the tube site’s existing audience for traffic — and without being obligated to include all of the studio’s titles in the content partner program, a win for all involved.
While it is highly unlikely that Facebook’s Instant Articles program will ever be open to adult publishers, the lessons about catering to today’s users, and those user’s experience, can help all online marketers — while the strategic implications of the social network’s ongoing corralling of users into its walled garden is something that business planners need to note.
For an insider’s look at how such transformations in digital media access, content and delivery could shape the adult website traffic landscape over the next few years, join the discussion by the XBIZ.net community of adult entertainment industry professionals.
For more information on Instant Articles, click here.