With its “Instant Articles” initiative, set to launch this month, Facebook will let publishers like BuzzFeed, The New York Times, and National Geographic keep all the revenue from ads displayed with their stories—if they let Facebook host their articles.
This would be different than posting a link to one of those sites on the social network. Rather than live on the publishers’ sites, the content would live on Facebook’s servers, making it faster and easier to open on mobile phones in particular.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s Deepa Seetharaman, who first reported on the initiative, the project could launch as early as this month and will include both article and video hosting. As of right now, the format of the advertisements is unknown, but it’s a safe bet that it will involve Facebook’s Atlas platform rather than a competing advertising technology from, say, Google.
Instant Articles is the latest salvo in a concerted effort by Facebook to control the content experience on its service. The company has also announced plans to convince publishers to host content inside Facebook and made tweaks to its news feed algorithm that negatively impacted advertorial content.
For publishers, the idea of taking a load off their servers by hosting content through Facebook may be appealing. Less appealing is that Facebook answers to shareholders rather than to editorial offices and did not make any promises about how long publishers will receive 100% of the advertising revenue generated by their content.